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Light in Darkness: Embracing the Opportunity of Climate Change1 by Edwin Firmage, Jr.

I howl like a wolf and mourn like an owl. Micah 1:8 Most of you know me, if you know me at all, as an environmental activist. A few of you may know me as an outdoor photographer. But tonight, in view of the season, Id like to put on another of my hats. Long before I took up cameras and activism, I was a student of the ancient Near East. My special focus was Israel and the Bible. And Id like to start o my presentation tonight by talking a bit about the Bible. Ironically, academic study of the Bible was at least indirectly the beginning of the end of my active involvement in organized religion. So, I think its only fair to forewarn you that I stand before you tonight as that oddest of creatures, the agnostic preacher. But in part because of the crumbling of belief, and also for other reasons, my Bible study was the start of everything good that has followed, including the photography and the activism. Whats more, although I now approach the Bible very dierently than I did as a Mormon missionary thirty years ago, the Bible is if anything more signicant to me now. For me, as I hope for you, the Bible remains a foundational cultural and spiritual document, and it can inspire us whether or not we are true believers.

Section I is based on a presentation delivered at the Unitarian Church, Salt Lake City, UT, December 18, 2009. Section II borrows heavily from a petition called A Call for Leadership that I drew up for the University of Utah in February 2009 but only circulated among a small group of friends at the U. due to the apparent unwillingness of faculty to speak out and draw down the ire of the Utah Legislature. A copy of the petition is available on my website: http://web.me.com/ ermage/Edwin_Firmage_Photography/Blog/Entries/2009/2/2_A_Declaration_of_Energy_Indepenence_les/A%20Call %20for%20Leadership.pdf. Sections III - VI are new to this essay.

EDWIN FIRMAGE, JR. makes his living, or tries to, as a ne art photographer in Salt Lake City, Utah (res est sacra miser). He studied classics at Princeton and holds an M.A. in Ancient History and Mediterranean Archaeology from U.C. Berkeley, where he was a Mellon Fellow. From 19861989, he was a Rotary Foundation scholar at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem. He is the author and publisher of Red Rock Yellow Stone, an award-winning combination of photographs of the American West and haiku from Japan. For more about Mr. Firmage, visit his web site, www.edwinrmage.com.

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My message to you this evening is that climate change is the problem: the ecological problem, the social and economic problem, the health problem, and the moral problem not just of our time but of all time. For reasons that Ill explain in Parts III through VI, I think that churches have a uniquely important role to play in addressing this problem of problems. But whether or not climate change is the problem, it is certainly a problem, and a big problem for churches, as it is for other institutions. It therefore seems reasonable, if perhaps somewhat old-fashioned, to consider what light the Bible might shed on this issue for religious institutions that in theory, if not always in deed, honor the Bible as a foundational document. So, with that justication for my playing preacher, let me turn to the Good Old Book, that book so little read in so many places at so many times ( !"#$ %&'()#* +,+' -.,/012 %3.,4 4#/ '56 '784 '92: ;'5<=40) )>?"@*A, BC>4D+>E(1F' %>G.!(+ +HI5+D'51 +>4"J' %&'()#* .,-.,/012 +,+' !K0$&' %&'()#*F, %H!L($ M(N.O0) ;'551#)092 %3.,40) ;&'.,N 210)#+F, I begin my remarks tonight with these beautiful and familiar words rst spoken 2,500 years ago by a man living somewhere in the Near East, perhaps in what we now call Iraq, perhaps in what we now call Israel. He spoke a long time ago in a far away place and in a foreign tongue, and I recite his words in his tongue to remind us that these words do come from another world. Yet they still have meaning for us today: Arise, shine, for thy light has come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For, behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising (Isa. 60:1-3). e speaker of these words called himself Yeshayahu. He was the second or third of Israels prophets to call himself by that name. Yeshayahu, or Isaiah as we know him, wrote at the end of the biblical
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omas Greene).

period. As one of the last of the writers of the Bible, he could look back over hundreds of years of thought and action inspired by Israels unique faith. As one of the last of the prophets, he saw himself and his people at a turning point in time when at last the promise of Gods covenant with Israel would be fullled, mutually fullled. If the Bible has a red thread, an organizing principle, it is certainly the notion of the covenant. What does this covenant mean? To understand, we must go back to the beginning of Israels history, as Israels priests did when they were putting the Torah in its present form. For them, the story begins with Gods creation of mankind in his image: 2OPQ29R56 2OH90)(S0/ ;T#4 +>U@*AO Let us make mankind in our image, according to our likeness (Gen. 1:26). For Israels priests, the resemblance between God and man was both physical and spiritual. It was this resemblance that made it possible for God at a later date to tell Israel, You must be holy, because I, the Lord your God, am holy (Lev. 19:2). Without such a resemblance, such a requirement would be impossible. But even at the beginning of history, before ever speaking a word to this eect, God expected mankind to model its behavior on his. It didnt. Gods rst attempt to create a holy following failed. e generation of Adam and his family

created a world full of violence. Clearly, if people were going to become holy, God would have to do something more than simply turning them loose on their own recognizance. And so, after wiping out all life on earth except the beings saved in the ark, God gave mankind its rst instructions in how to behave. He told Noah that men may not kill each other, because they are the image of God. And he told Noah that while people would now be allowed to eat animals as opposed to just plants for food, the life of these animals, as embodied in the blood, belonged to God and to God alone. is was the rst simple statement of ethics and the rst dietary law of the Bible (Gen. 9:3-6). Once more, however, humanity failed to live up to its promise and its obligation. Humanity again lled
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the earth with violence, and even proposed to take heaven by storm by building a gigantic siege tower (cf. Isa. 14:13-14: Babel and Babylon, the same city at dierent ends of history, dene arrogance). God responded by scattering humanity to the winds and making it dicult for them to work together. Students of foreign languages will be forever grateful for this diculty. And so, God made a third attempt. Again he singled out one good man, and he made a promise to this man of a sort that he had not made with Noah or with Adam. God bound himself to this man as a friend, with the promise that he would be a friend not only to the man but to his ospring. In time, God took the ospring of his friend, Abraham, and set them down at the foot of Sinai for a lecture like no other in history. In painstaking and unprecedented detail, God laid out for the Israelites what it means to be holy. And no aspect of life was too trivial for consideration. Diet, clothing, hygiene, behavior, governance God spelled it all out for them so that there would be no room for excuses. is was Israels Torah, the Teaching, the basis for the agreement between God and his people. If they would follow his Teaching and become a holy people, he would be their God, and would dwell among them, literally. In Israelite thought, the giving of the Torah and the covenant at Sinai is the epitome of Gods relations with mankind, for at Sinai God at last gives mankind the knowledge of how to become like God.3 Such is the vision of the Torah. But the biblical story of Gods passionate involvement in the life of Israel of course does not end there. It continues in the prophets, whose theme is the failure of Israel to live up to this covenant responsibility. e tone of the prophetic message down the ages is set by Samuel, the rst great prophet after Moses of whom we have any substantial record. Samuel rebukes Israel for its desire to have a king like the other nations, for Yahweh was their proper king (1 Sam. 8:10-22). And Samuel rebukes Saul, Israels rst king, for having saved some of the spoils of battle to make a grand sacricial oering, despite Yahwehs command to destroy them. Samuels response to
In this reading of Israels prehistory, I follow Martin Buber, Abraham the Seer, in On the Bible: Eighteen Studies, ed. Nahum Glatzer. New York: Schocken, 1968, 22-43. I discuss the relevance of the primeval history to the Holiness Code in my own article, Genesis 1 and the Priestly Agenda. Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 82 (1999), 97-114. An abbreviated audio version of this article, which I presented at the 1998 Sunstone Symposium, is available on my website: http://web.me.com/ermage/Supporting_Documents/Scholarly_Works_les/Genesis%201%20and%20the%20Priestly %20Agenda.mp3. Obviously, this reading of the Torah is 180 degrees dierent from the traditional Mormon view. But this is the plain, holistic reading of the text, which is to say, the intent of the text according to its nal compositors.

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Saul will echo through generations of prophecy, Does Yahweh desire whole oerings and sacrices as he desires that you hear him? To hear is better than sacrice, and to listen better than the fat of rams (1 Sam. 15:22).4 If king and priest were the anointed executors of the divine will, the prophets were the guardians of it, a role that from the beginning put them at odds with the political and religious establishment. So these men, the prophets, who mostly have no appointment but only a mission... stand and summon to justice the representatives on the royal throne for their treachery against YHVH and His commandments. One after another they repeat Gods words, I have anointed thee to be melekh, or I have appointed nagid: Samuel to Saul (1 Sam. 15:17), Nathan to David (2 Sam. 12:7), Ahijah to Jeroboam (1 Kgs. 14:7). For four hundred years they come one after the other and take their stand before the prince and reprove him because of the violated covenant, and nally Jeremiah (22:6.), sometime after the disaster [the fall of Jerusalem], announces destruction for the kings house which had not been just, and therefore was no more justied.5 charismatic gure of enormous human depth and obvious faith. Even David, who, like Abraham, was promised that his dynasty would enjoy Gods special favor forever (2 Sam. 7:16) and who became the model for the Messiah, does not escape prophetic censure. In contemporary pagan literature, kings were the subject of epic and hagiography. In Israel, they are the foils of the prophets, cautionary tales of the failure of even the greatest to live up to their responsibility. Its an extraordinary tale, without parallel in world literature, which perhaps is why many people today still read it, long after the royal propaganda has been relegated to the dustbin. I wonder, though, how many readers understand its message. No book in history sits less comfortably with the status quo than the Book that has so widely become the icon of the status quo. e conict is tragic and deeply moving, as in the case of David, who is Yahwehs champion in war and a

4 Trans. mine. Generations of Sunday School lessons to free-spirited children notwithstanding, Samuels rebuke is not a

sermon on obedience per se. Its a statement about the hierarchy of values. In e ect, Samuel says that how you behave trumps how you worship. ats a message that todays punctilious Sunday School and temple goers might actually nd troubling. Ive chosen to render kishmoa beql YHWH literally, because the injunction to hear is so rich in biblical echoes, as in the Shema: Hear, Israel, the laws and statutes that I proclaim to you today. Learn them and observe them (Deut. 5:1). To hear is to internalize, not simply to follow your le leaders orders. Mechanical obedience is as meaningless as mechanical sacri ce. Yahweh does not want automata any more than he wants zealous hypocrites. To suppose otherwise is to treat Yahweh himself as a machine, an idol.
5 Martin Buber,

e Prophetic Faith. Trans. Carlyle Witton-Davies. New York: Harper, 1960, 68. Originally published 1949.

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In the end, what the prophets look for and universally fail to nd is the transformation of a people. In the view of the prophets, it is precisely the Lords chosen people who are the most blind and deaf to God (Isa. 42:19-20; 43:8; Jer. 5:21; 6:10; Ezek. 12:2; cf. also Isa. 30: 9; Jer. 6:17; Hos. 4:6,16; 7:11), who do not understand God (Hos. 4:1 || lack of covenant loyalty, v. 6 || forgetting the Torah; Isa. 5:13; Jer. 22:16 = doing justice and righteousness), and who are unclean (Isa. 64:6). repentance is simply return, teshuvah. e prophets therefore seek a national purifying, a return to fundamental principles. In Hebrew to this day, the word for us, Jeremiah tells Jerusalem, Wash your heart of evil (kabbes meraah libbeka) that you may be saved (Jer. 4:14). Circumcise yourself to the Lord, remove the foreskin of your hearts (4:4) so that you become in fact as well as in belief a holy people (Amos 5:14; Isa. 62:12; cf. Jer. 2:3; Isa. 6:13). e apparent resistance of the people to deep, wholesale, and permanent transformation provokes the prophets to anger and sorrow, for they see, as the people do not, the disparity between what is and what could be, and between what is and what must be. In reality, the Israel of the prophets was probably not for the most part a society run amok, prophetic indictments notwithstanding, but an everyday kind of society with its normal measure of daily sin.6 Hezekiah (715-687 B.C.E) and Josiah (640-609 B.C.E.), for example, ruled for almost 60 years between them, during a century of exceptional political turbulence and social change. Such longevity itself says something about the likely quality of their leadership. And the Bible recognizes that they were in fact good kings, who generally did right by God and by the people. Of Hezekiah, the author of 2 Kings says, He put his trust in the Lord... ere was nobody like him among all the kings of Judah who succeeded him or among those who had gone before him (2 Kgs. 18:5). Josiah did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, following in the footsteps of his forefather David and deviating neither to the right nor to the left (2 Kgs. 22:2). Jeremiah himself says of Josiah that he upheld the cause of the lowly and the poor (Jer. 22:15). And yet, it is during this same period that Isaiah and Jeremiah thunder against Israel, because there were also less-than-exemplary kings, less-than-exemplary ruling classes, and even less than exemplary poor. Jeremiah blankets them all with furious denunciation, From the smallest
Yehezkel Kaufmann, e Religion of Israel. Trans. Moshe Greenberg. Chicago: University of Chicago, 1960, 421. Kaufmanns is by far the best general history of Israelite religion ever written, and I cannot recommend it too highly to those who may wish to pursue the subject in greater depth.

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to the greatest of them, all seek gain, from prophet to priest all deal falsely (Jer. 6:13; 8:10). In an ordinary society, Abraham Heschel notes, Few are guilty, but all are responsible...In a community not indierent to suering, uncompromisingly impatient with cruelty and falsehood, continually concerned for God and every man, crime would be infrequent rather than common.7 Israel had crime, and corruption, and poverty even at the best of times, like all societies before and since. But for a people under covenant to be holy, to be ordinary, to be like every other nation, was to fail God. e fact that crime and corruption and all of the ills of normal society had not disappeared demonstrated to the prophets that Israels commitment to the covenant was insucient. In the end, while the prophets produced a long litany of the peoples oenses, what they really condemned Israel for was being ordinary. e importance of this point cannot be overstated. Believing readers of the Bible today who suppose that Israel was punished because it was in fact unusually wicked fundamentally miss the point, which is that the Israelites were in fact probably just like most people in most ages, and the prophets condemned them. e prophets were not sociologists or moral statisticians. eir indictment of Israel was not compiled from an encyclopedic knowledge of the sins of the people, but rather from their observation of the society as a whole and its self-evident failure to be something radically dierent. e prophetic indictment was therefore not subject to mitigation by the righteousness of e prophets were no more concerned with individual righteousness than with some individuals.

individual wickedness. Of course individuals must be righteous. But if society as a whole cannot rise to the challenge, individual righteousness does not matter: the righteous and the wicked perish together. To a person endowed with prophetic sight, Heschel continues, everyone appears blind; to a person whose ear perceives Gods voice, everyone else appears deaf. No one is just; no knowing is strong enough, no trust complete enough. of the road... is a challenge, an incessant demand... e prophet hates the approximate, he shuns the middle e prophet disdains those for whom Gods presence is comfort and security; to him, it e prophets word is a scream in the night. While the world is

at ease and asleep, the prophet feels the blast from heaven.8
7 8

e Prophets. New York: Harper, 1975, I:16 (rst published 1962). Idem.

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For the prophets, the transformation of the world and their ultimate vision is of a transformed world modeled on Israels holiness (Isa. 2:2-4; 42:6-7; 45:22; 49:6; 56:6-7; 66:18-22; Mic. 4:2; Jer. 3:17; 4:2; 12:16; 16:19; Zeph. 3:9-10; Zech. 2:15; 8:20-23; 14:16-21) requires rst that Gods people take their divine mission to heart in a way that they have not yet done. Israel is the rst fruits of Gods harvest of the nations (Jer. 2:3). us, after chastising Israel for its failure to do this, God tells Jeremiah, I will put my teaching (torah) inside them, I will write it on their heart, and I shall be their God and they shall be my people (Jer. 31:33). In this last chapter in the story of Gods relations with men, they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them (v. 34). Bringing the story full circle, Jeremiah reminds his people that the person telling them this is the Lord, which giveth the sun for a light by day...and the moon and the stars by night (v. 35). Only at this point can God say of mankind, It is good. e essence of biblical prophecy is not to see what will be but to see what is and what can be. reality that the prophets saw is that while the physical universe is all that God intended it to be, Gods masterpiece, man, is still in the process of being created.9 And what God hopes to achieve with this part of his creation is an image of himself in the fullest sense of the word. While God prohibits icons to Israel, he permits himself one: Israel is Gods icon. Israel is God mate, his love, his passion. As I said at the beginning, it is Gods purpose, according to the Bible, to create a nation that embodies his own holiness, his own righteousness. Lord of hosts shall be exalted in justice, | us, Isaiah in a striking image says, But the e Holy One of Israel sanctied in righteousness (5:16). e

It is not in his omnipotence or his omniscience that God says he is distinguished, but in his righteousness. Omnipotence and omniscience are qualities that uniquely characterize God, and yet in Isaiahs vision these qualities are not what God chooses to dwell on. It is the quality that he shares with man.10

Heschel, op. cit., I:198. So Heschel, op. cit., 213, in a particularly brilliant passage in a book that is notable for brilliance.


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What God seeks in mankind is the same overowing of righteousness that exists within himself, that seeks to ll and to transform the world. Let justice roll down like waters, | And righteousness like a mighty stream (Amos 5:24). is righteousness is an irresistible force, not the static balancing of interests or the maintenance of law and order that we associate with simple justice. In real world justice and law and order, there are many ways, especially for the powerful, as the prophets knew only too well, to sidestep responsibility. Even in the midst of social order, therefore, injustice and inequity abound. Righteousness does not tolerate such a status quo. It seeks constantly to redeem the imperfect. Zion shall be redeemed by justice, | And those in her who repent, by righteousness (Isa. 1:27). And the scope of the intended redemption is universal: government, religious life, and civil life as well as individual behavior must all be transformed. As Amoss metaphor illustrates, justice and righteousness in prophetic thinking are not principles that exist in the abstract. ey are not morals or ethics but the force of goodness in action that emanates from God to man. In fact, they are important ultimately because and only because they bless the life of man, for God himself seeks fulllment in man. Injustice too is a force, which ows in the other direction. us, injustice is condemned not because the law is broken, but because a person has been hurt,11 and God too feels that hurt. You shall not aict any widow or orphan. If you do aict them, and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry...I will hear, for I am compassionate (Exod. 22:22-23, 27).12 Inasmuch as you do it to the least of these, you do it to me. ere is no more profound expression of the human aspiration for goodness. Nor is there a more tragic appreciation of human reality, which expresses itself in the prophets as divine pathos. In nothing are the prophets as moving as in their sense of the disjunction between Gods desire to touch his peoples hearts and their unwillingness to be touched. What the prophets hold out to Israel is the prospect of abundant life (cf. esp. Isa. 55). As Moses says at the beginning of Israelite history, I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life (Deut. 30:19; cf. Amos
11 12

Heschel, op. cit., 261.

ere are also positive formulations of such commandments (Isa. 1:17; Jer. 22:3; Deut. 14:28-29; 16:11, 14; 24:19; 26:12). Israel is to show kindness to the disenfranchised, because God himself does so (Deut. 10:18-19). Righteousness thus goes beyond not oppressing the widow and orphan to being their advocate and aid, even though in strict justice they dont deserve it. Firmage, Light in Darkness, 9 of 90

5:5-6). What Moses and his successors hold out is not simply a way of life that avoids imminent, nasty death. It is not a stay of execution. It is rather a blessing, a life of unimaginable possibility and radical freedom empowered by the presence of God himself. Yet Israel, in the prophetic view, refuses this. For the prophets, as Heschel observes, e opposite of freedom is not determinism, [an inability to

act freely,] but hardness of heart, [a refusal to act rightly]. Freedom presupposes openness of heart, of mind, of eye and ear...Hardening of the heart is the suspension of freedom. Sin becomes compulsory and self-destructive. Guilt and punishment become one.13 Freedom is therefore more than the simple possibility of self-determination. It is the active opposite of all those qualities that characterize Israel in its refusal to be touched: stubbornness, hardness, and brazenness of heart (Deut. 29:18; Lam.3:65; Ezek. 2:4), the willful refusal to see and hear reality (Isa. 42:19-20; 43:8; Jer. 5:21; 6:10; Ezek. 12:2; cf. also Isa. 30: 9; Jer. 6:17; Hos. 4:6,16; 7:11). To be free is to become all that one can become, not simply to make ones way with God knows how many shackles holding you back (Isa. 5:18). Despite their sorrow at Israels present rejection of freedom, the prophets to a man hold out the possibility that at some point things will change and Israel will at last embrace its mission. If the present scene is bleak, the ultimate outcome is a happy one. How could it be otherwise? If Israels refusal to become the image of God were to be the last word, then Gods creative purpose would come to nothing, and that by denition cannot happen. Condence in mans capacity to repent saves the prophets from despair. Such is the paradigmatic, biblical story of God and his people from the creation to the fulllment of creation in Zion. In the thinking of the Bible, the unity of God and his people at the end of time is what will inspire the rest of the world, the nations and their kings, to come knocking on Israels door in search of the same blessing. is is the biblical paradigm of Zion, the kingdom of God, the


Op. cit., 191.

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exemplary city on the hill that brings about the nal transformation of humanity into the true image of God. is is the essential, unifying message of the Bible throughout its long history.

is is therefore the theme that Jesus too comes preaching, Now after John the Baptist was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, e time is fullled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel (Mark 1:14-15). Jesuss gospel wasnt new. He didnt need to explain the kingdom to his fellow Jews, because they already knew what it meant. e gospel, the good news, of Jesus of Nazareth is the old priestly and prophetic ideal of the holy nation, the Zion society, that is built upon the premise that mankind is under divine injunction to be holy, to realize in themselves the divine likeness that is theirs in potentia. In the gospels, this ideal is personied in Jesus. It is an inner, individual reality, as all righteousness must be (Jesuss whole moral teaching underscores this point). But it is also a collective truth. For Jesus, or any other individual, to be the sole, essential, or isolated embodiment of the ideal, renders the notion of a kingdom meaningless. us, Jesus can say, e kingdom of God is is is the biblical value. entos hymon (Luke 17:21) and mean both among and within you.14

ere is in all of this long story of the Bible an astonishing integrity, as of a mans life that makes sense as he looks back on it in old age. Although what we now call the Bible, the so-called Old and New Testaments, was written by many hands over many centuries, it has meaning as a whole that unites the many disparate and not always mutually consistent parts. And the same can be said of the history of Gods people after the Bible. aspects of life with the spiritual quest. e Zion idea reaches into the Christian tradition of e Zion idea is in part the inspiration for the Puritan monasticism, which likewise sought to create a community of holiness that linked the mundane tradition, and through it for not a little of the American religious experience, whose most extraordinary manifestation is the religion of the Latter-day Saints. It was this ideal that brought my ancestors here to the desert of the Great Basin 150 years ago, in what they believed was the end of time, the latter days, a turning point, like Yeshayahus, when all
For a good, critical discussion of the range of meanings, see Joseph Fitzmyer, Anchor Bible 28A. New York: Doubleday, 1985, s.v.

e Gospel According to Luke X-XXIV.

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of Gods purposes for mankind and the world would be fullled, those purposes that have inspired people wanting to call themselves saints since Yeshayahus day and beyond. For my ancestors, those would-be saints, as for their biblical role models, there was ultimately no distinction between sacred and profane.15 All of life was encompassed by the injunction to be holy. From how you make your clothes to how you raise your food to how you make your living, absolutely
Photo: Edwin Firmage

everything was part of the gospel of the

kingdom. Mormons would easily have agreed with Josephus, Moses did not make religion a department of virtue, but the various virtues I mean, justice, temperance, fortitude, and mutual harmony... departments of religion. Religion governs all our actions and occupations and speech; none of these things did our lawgiver leave unexamined or indeterminate... (Against Apion 2.170-173).16 e Mormon symbol for this all-encompassing mandate of holiness was the all-seeing eye above the beehive with its busy little bees and the inscription Holiness to the Lord. Today, you see that inscription, though not that image, only on Mormon temples. But in earlier times, you might also see it on a warehouse or a ward house or a storefront; it didnt matter. All were equally the province of God.

With regard to the Hebrew Bible, in the strictest of priestly terms, there was of course a distinction between the holy objects of the sanctuary and the profane world outside, as there was between the borrowed holiness of the priests and the non-holy world of the people. But this technical distinction is obscured by the overarching notion of the mandate for the people to become holy and by the fact that their trespasses, their violations of the code of holiness, directly aected the purity of the sanctuary. In other words, like the priests, the people also had obligations of holiness, and would suer realworld consequences for their failure to live up to these. e most serious of these consequences was the total withdrawal of God from their midst. For God to dwell anywhere among men required a general setting of holiness. So, what makes biblical religion unique among its ancient peers is the degree to which it blankets the everyday secular life of the people at large. is tendency continues into the post-biblical and rabbinic periods, as the Pharisees, and, following them, the rabbis extend the reach of the requirements of holiness ever farther and deeper into daily life. Orthodox Judaism is the outgrowth of this tendency. On the Pharisees, see G. F. Moore, Judaism in the First Centuries of the Christian Era. Cambridge: Harvard, 1955, I: 60. In general, see E. P. Sanders, Judaism: Practice & Belief 63 BCE - 66 CE. Philadelphia: SCM Press, 1992.
15 16

Quoted in Sanders, op. cit., 51.

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e question I would now like to put to you is whether this biblical paradigm embraces us here tonight. For myself, you may be surprised to hear, the answer is an emphatic Yes, despite the fact that I havent worshipped in a Mormon or any other chapel for 25 years, and despite the fact that I dont even believe in God, at least in the sense that my ancestors or my fellow Mormons today do. What draws me and I hope others to the biblical tradition of Zion is that it is a dening, and, in some ways, denitive expression of the human search for goodness. It recommends itself, even imposes itself on us, not because it comes from an omnipotent, graybearded, cosmic tyrant, but because it is the summary of our own search for meaning and grounding in life. It is an expression of the human need, if not the divine imperative, to be sanctied. And what is the sanctication that we seek? It is a comprehensive goodness, a life lived in accordance with principles of fairness, compassion, and community with others. It is a life based on the rejection of arrogance and superpower. e great biblical imperative is that You shall have no other Gods before me. In my e biblical paradigm of Zion is a way of life that knows secular interpretation, this is our way of warning ourselves against the idolatry of the self and the worship of our wants and desires.17 senses of the word. is is not the American way today. We have been at war with the physical world, our own world no less, since the day we set foot on Plymouth Rock. No nation in history has enjoyed such natural bounty, or destroyed it so quickly. In just three centuries, we have consumed our way through a
e history of Israel, as viewed by its prophetic chroniclers, is a drama about the e ects of violating this wisdom. As Israels ancient tribal god, Yahweh was never in danger of being formally replaced by other gods, prophetic rhetoric notwithstanding. e real danger was turning Yahweh into one of the other gods. It wasnt Baal as rival, for example, but Baal as image of Yahweh that was dangerous. Israels God forbad icons of himself in order to insure that the peoples image of him never displaced him. When, despite this warning, Yahweh became assimilated into the religious mainstream represented by Baal, Asherah, fertility cults and the like, when, instead of being the aniconic challenge to the norm, Yahweh became its gurehead, he ceased to be Yahweh. Yahweh protests, My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways...as the heavens are high above the earth, so are my ways high above your ways and my thoughts above your thoughts (Isa. 55:8-9). In my secular midrash, this is the inherited wisdom of generations warning us against elevating our ideas of the sacred above the sacred, and in the end replacing the sacred with mere ideas about it. Map, as they say, is not territory. Religion is a map of the sacred, nothing more. e moment we forget that, as we seem to do with regularity, we e ectively begin worshipping ourselves. e history of religions generally, Judaism and Christianity included, is largely the story of successive idolatries. What makes Judaeo-Christian idolatry particularly dangerous is that we elevate not a cross-section of life but one narrow view of it. Monotheism becomes monolatry, following the path toward monoculture that appears to be our universal destiny.

contentment. Its a way of life that is at peace with the world, in both the human and the physical

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continent of resources, a continent of virgin hardwood forest that we simply burned, a continent of prairie that was an American Serengeti, a continent of wildlife where salmon were once so common they were called poor mans hamburger. We brought the beaver to the edge of extinction. We slaughtered 60 million bison and left their carcasses to rot. We dammed almost every river and stream in America, destroying riparian ecosystems by the tens of thousands. Weve scraped mountains to the ground. Weve and drained and developed wetlands. Weve poisoned our air with acid and soot and our water with mercury. Its not an exaggeration, therefore, or a metaphor, to say that we have waged war against our own world, just as we have waged war against the native human inhabitants of this world, with equally deadly results. And always, this has been a war without terms, without compromise. e natural world will surrender to us unconditionally.18

Punctuating this perpetual natural war have been spasms of smaller-scale war instigated by us and directed at other people beyond our borders: Mexicans, Spaniards, Cubans, Koreans, Vietnamese, Cambodians, Laotians, Iranians, Grenadians, Panamanians, Iraqis, and Afghanis. We also fought a large-scale and astronomically costly cold war with Russia, which sent probably hundreds of thousands of innocent people to their death as collateral damage from proxy wars, political subversion and revolution, environmental destruction, economic deprivation, and nuclear fallout. Although Russia never dropped a bomb on us, we exploded over 900 nuclear weapons on our own soil, 100 of them in the open air.19 ats fty times as many as we dropped on our mortal enemy, Japan. We even contemplated the possibility of waging nuclear war at an acceptable cost of tens of millions and perhaps hundreds of millions of lives. In saying that the biblical way embraces me, I am saying that I reject the American tradition of war. And I reject much of what we call the American dream, which has been the American nightmare for uncountable billions of other living things that
18 Incidentally but not coincidentally, the same story plays out with the Mormons. In the battle over polygamy, the U.S.

government waged all-out war on the Mormons. Gilded Age America tolerated no alternatives.

http://www.nv.doe.gov/library/publications/historical/DOENV_209_REV15.pdf. e total breaks down as follows: 17 tests on American sites (CO, NM, AK, MI, NV) outside the Nevada Test Site (NTS), 904 at NTS, 3 in the South Atlantic, 106 in the Pacic, and 24 tests conducted in conjunction with the U.K., for a total of 1,054. Of the 904 at NTS, 100 were above ground. e Baneberry underground test shown here was a ten kiloton bomb the size of President Bushs proposed bunker buster weapons. It was buried 900 feet below ground but still resulted in a radioactive release that reached more than 10,000 feet into the atmosphere. In 2003, I wrote about the dangers of Bushs bunker busters in a short piece that is available on my website: http://web.me.com/ermage/Supporting_Documents/ Writing_on_the_Environment_les/Oppose%20Nuclear%20Weapons.pdf. Firmage, Light in Darkness, 14 of 90

we have destroyed. Our way today seems to me to embody precisely that worship of the self and of the selsh that is the great sin in biblical thinking, and it seems to be tending toward the same sort of result that biblical arrogance did. If there is a Jungian archetype for cataclysmic, self-induced destruction, we are living it.
Baneberry underground nuclear test, Dec. 1970

e more I think about the problems we face today, therefore, the more I nd myself, kar though I am, gravitating towards the way of life pioneered by my ancestors and their biblical models. Does the biblical tradition of Zion, or the Mormon tradition of Zion, have anything to say to us arrogant Americans in Utah today? At the heart of my emphatic Yes is the notion that inspired Yeshayahu 2,500 years ago, the idea of a community that embraces the principles of fairness, compassion, and dedication to the common cause against the worship of self and superpower.

To be meaningful, the biblical ideal of righteousness, of goodness in action, must be embodied in community and not just in individuals. As Ive said, in the Hebrew Bible, the focus is almost entirely on community. What concerns priests and prophets alike is Israels righteousness, not that of isolated individuals. Gods promises and punishments therefore apply to the people as a whole. If they will be righteous, he will dwell among them and be their protector. If not, they will perish en masse. no promise to or concern with individuals as such.20 ere is is collective gospel continues in the post-

e focus on the individual, and especially on the salvation of the individual, that is characteristic of modern manifestations of the Judaeo-Christian tradition is the child of the Greco-Roman period. For an excellent treatment of the subject, see A. D. Nock. Conversion. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1933, Reprinted 1972. Jesus is thus a transitional gure. He comes announcing the kingdom of God, but his teaching focuses on the individual.

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biblical ideology of the Messiah, the royal descendant of David, who will lead Gods people in their ultimate resurgence.21 e Messiah is not a personal but a national savior. In short, the Hebrew Bible is a teaching less for individuals than for a people. It is a handbook for creating a holy nation. e early Mormons sensed this intuitively if not explicitly. Unlike most of the rest of religious America and very much unlike other settlers of the American frontier, the Mormons thought from the beginning in collective terms. called to build a new society, Zion. e heart and soul of early Mormonism was the sense of being is objective of building Zion, or as Mormons called it the City

of Enoch, was what created the rst Mormon communities in Kirtland, Ohio, Independence, Missouri, and Nauvoo, Illinois. From the start, Mormons felt compelled to build new community. ey were not content with simply becoming converts to a new religion and living where and more or less how they had lived before, with just a change of ideology. many independent selfs trying to live righteously on their own. tended to practice it, held no interest for the Mormons. but to create a new world. ey were not content to be so us, religion, as other Americans

ey werent out simply to live a pious life

is mentality ultimately brought them West when it proved impossible

to build their ideal community among other Christians. And, the Zion mentality is in large measure responsible for the success of the Mormon saints in an environment that few thought inhabitable. Common faith gave the communistic Mormons what modern communists lacked, a basis of voluntary but total commitment, of genuine and total passion.22 eir common faith gave them something that frontier expedience, however great, also could not: it made their experience meaningful. It did this by putting their experience in a context that linked them in common cause to each other and to generations past and future without end. It made their life a living sacrament. Sacraments not only connect people to God but people to people. Sacraments are a treasured inheritance passed down from generation to generation. And they are entered into with others in

e post-biblical Messiah is of course modeled on the biblical king of Israel, who is Gods mashah, or anointed representative (cf. 1 Sam. 9:16; Ps. 2:2, etc.). But it isnt until Israel has lost her independence as a nation that her future king, or more correctly her divinely appointed regent, begins to take on the character of the Messiah.
21 22

For a brief resum of the subject, see Appendix 1.

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common worship. In a Mormon temple marriage, for example, bride and bridegroom kneel facing one another across the altar. Behind each of them is a mirror, and the two mirrors, reecting one another, create a series of kneeling couples that stretches on in each direction into eternity. At the center of this procession of life is the couple being married now. Eternity ends and begins in this moment. It is in the nature of a sacrament to focus eternity in the present moment. To live sacramentally, therefore, as the early Mormons tried to do, is to act in each moment with the awareness of an eternity leading to and from this moment. It is to act with awareness and appreciation of those who have preceded us and who will follow us in the procession of life. is sense of the sacramental in the everyday, the exaltation of the everyday, is what the religious world view, and above all the Zion world view, even if it is secularized as in my case, oers that no mere ideology can provide. My emphatic Yes is therefore a cry to bring a kind of Zion to life in our time, a self-sucient, morally driven, sacramental community that at least on essential points of rst principles is, as Mormon scripture puts it, of one heart and one mind. In such a community, stewardship of the earth would be top of the list of rst principles, because without a sustainable relationship with earth life itself is not possible. In such a community, responsibility for insuring that the procession of generations continues would be a rst principle, and it would be a sacrament. In such a community, day to day decisions, like how we build our homes, how we raise our food, how we get about, are sacramental decisions, because they impinge on eternity. In 1857, Mormon apostle Heber C. Kimball addressed the saints in Salt Lake. His theme was the sacrament of life. We dedicate and consecrate the wine or water that we partake of in the sacrament, and we also dedicate the bread to the Lord; and it should be just so with everything; it should all be dedicated to the Lord; and upon all that we do and put our hands unto, we should ask his blessings. We should never meddle with anything on this earth that we cannot lay our hands upon and bless and dedicate and consecrate to the Lord... Brethren, go out and dedicate your gardens, and when you get a tree that you want to set out, dedicate the ground, the root, and the elements that you are going to place around it, and ask God to ll it with warmth and with power to vegetate. Dedicate the seed that you are going to put into the earth, and then dedicate the earth, and nourish it when it springs forth...and do not say that it cannot be quickened, for I say it can...

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e Lord will now bless our labor; he will bless the fruits of the earth, he will bless our tanneries, he will bless our sheep, our ocks, and everything we undertake to handle and manage...and we will dedicate and consecrate them to God, and we will ask God to ll the earth with the resurrecting power; for life is the resurrecting power...and it is that power which brings forth vegetation; it is the same power which brings forth food and raiment; and by the same power we shall be brought forth in the morning of the resurrection...23 Is my hope for a Zion community in 21st-century Utah any more than the pipe dream of Yeshayahu or Jesus or St. Benedict or Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball? Probably not. We dont seem to be able to stick with this vision long enough or with sucient dedication to build the new society that these followers of the biblical way had in mind. At the same time, I must also confess that I put even less hope in civilization as it stands. And it seems to me to stand on the brink of self-induced catastrophe. If there is any hope for our civilization, it is the hope that inspired the biblical tradition of Zion. As the boy in the Passover Seder asks, How is this time dierent from all others? Why should there be any more hope now for the establishment of Zion than in the days of Yeshayahu or Jesus or Brigham Young? know it. e answer is that we, in ways that go beyond mere religious belief, really do live in the last days. If these arent the last days of history or time, they are the last days of civilization as we ere is an apocalypse on our doorstep. Its called climate change.

Apocalypse is much more than an old-fashioned word for disaster. We do face disaster, and on a scale beyond anything we have ever experienced. But we face apocalypse in the truer meaning of the word, which is literally uncovering. e apocalypse of climate change is the uncovering of the fact that our present way of life is utterly root and branch unsustainable. Climate change is the coming together, the perfect storm, of the many dierent manifestations of our worship of self and superpower. Climate change is the result of the reckless pursuit of narrowly dened self-interest at others expense. Its the result of the injustice of six percent of the worlds population consuming a quarter of the worlds fossil fuels and producing 20% of the worlds greenhouse gas emissions. Its the result of the hypocrisy of this six percent wagging the nger at the

ird World about emissions and

Increase in Saving Principles, Journal of Discourses. Liverpool: Latter-day Saints Book Depot, 1854-1886, 21: 187, 189-90. Firmage, Light in Darkness, 18 of 90

doing nothing about their own. Its the result of a health care system that spends billions treating heart disease, obesity, and diabetes, the diseases of an indulgent lifestyle, while leaving the lifestyle in place. Its the result of the worship of consumption, in which no product is too inexpensive and no true cost too invisible. Its the result of an attitude that views living systems of all kinds, including our own bodies and minds, as mere resources to exploit for prot. Climate change isnt just another in a series of problems. Its the sum of all of the many problems that we have faced and failed to solve or refused to solve in our idolatry of the bottom line. Standing against this tendency of our civilization is the biblical notion of Zion, the good society that embodies our deepest aspirations for individual and social transcendence. While these two aspects of our humanity have always been in conict, they come to blows now as never before in the problem of climate change. e next few decades will either be the moment when humans at last take something like the path we imagined for ourselves 3,000 years ago in ancient Palestine, or they will be our undoing. Climate change will be the catalyst for deep individual and societal transformation, or it will be our Deluge, our Babel, and our Exile. We will create Zion or we will create the Apocalypse. is is the moment when myth becomes history. e choice is ours.

In this endeavor, we will succeed together or fail together. Climate change is the result of systemic problems in our society, and it will only be averted by a systemic response. is means that if all we can muster is random, individual transformation, we will fail. If, for example, its just environmentalists putting up solar panels and getting rid of their cars, we will fail. If its just the wealthy doing the environmentally responsible thing, we will fail. If its everyone acting on his own, we will fail. is is something that everyone must do, and something that we must do together, with common purpose. e change we need is as radical as it is universal. As I discuss in Section III, one of the paradoxical recent discoveries of climate science is that the piecemeal conservation that we have practiced thus far is actually contributing to climate change. When just a few people do all of the right things or a few more people do bits and pieces of the right things, all society as a whole gets is modestly improved eciency. But a more ecient version of the present system is precisely what we do not want. A more
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ecient system that is still essentially devoted to utilizing earths resources for prot is not progress. We need a complete turnaround, societal repentance, a new collective mind. With 6.5 billion people on earth, soon to be 9-12 billion, we must forever abandon the old way of doing things. e good news, and really the only good news, is that crisis is the catalyst of change, for individuals and for society. And this is why I turn to you here tonight. In my opinion, it is in our communities of faith that the transformation of individuals and society must begin. It is in communities that have some understanding of and commitment to the biblical paradigm that this transformation can start, if it can start anywhere. I dont say that this is the only place where the transformation can happen. Anywhere that you have a community deeply committed to the underlying principles of Zion there is hope for transformation. But this is not what our present American political system is committed to, nor is it what American business is committed to. Both of these are alike and interchangeably committed to prot and self interest at all costs. Looking at American society at least, the only place I see communities that could rally around the idea of Zion is our churches. e degree to which politics and business as usual have betrayed us became abundantly clear in Copenhagen. What happened, or rather didnt happen, in Copenhagen, even with Barack Obama in the White House and Democrats controlling both houses of Congress, is the truest expression of the degree to which American culture has been enthralled by the darkness, the cosmic evil, and I do not speak in metaphor, that is todays American capitalism. Copenhagen was an apocalypse, a sneak preview of the Apocalypse that will surely come if people of faith do not stand up for the alternative. By standing up, I dont simply mean vocal protest, though that in itself would be a step forward, for there is precious little protest going on in America right now. I mean rst and foremost individual and collective commitment on the part of people of faith to live the principles of Zion here and now, and to live them radically. And to the age-old principles that Yeshayahu would have known we must now add a new one: carbon neutrality. Until every church and every member of every church is carbon-neutral, we Christians are not living the gospel that we profess.

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e imperative for our time, as for Jesuss, is to repent.

e Greek word that Mark uses for Jesuss call

to repentance is metanoeite, literally to get a new mind. Jesus invites those who would be his followers to realize that the world has changed, and that a new order now governs how they should act. In Jesuss teaching, the individual new mind and the new kingdom go hand in hand. Followers of this way are in fact the very temple of God (1 Cor. 3:16), the source from which the kingdom takes its strength. e news of Jesuss kingdom is an invitation for people to believe that a radically dierent way of life is possible, a way that values people as a manifestation of God and not simply as human resources. Even I as an unbeliever can subscribe to this. I believe that we can become whatever we imagine we can become.
Fig. 1

e central problem of climate change has nothing to do with the environment. Ours is not an environmental problem in the way that living in the desert or in the jungle is an environmental problem. Nothing we are experiencing as a result of climate change is dictated by factors outside our

control, not yet anyway. Ours is a problem of impoverished imagination and will. We cannot think outside of the desperately narrow little boxes that we mentally and physically inhabit. And the manifestation of our loss of imagination is neurosis on a scale never before seen in history.24 Our neurosis, indeed I would call it psychosis, is so profound that we cannot even see that we are in crisis, despite the fact that evidence of the crisis is all around us in plain sight. In the next section of this presentation, Ill have occasion to say something about these obvious evidences of climate change and their implications.25 Climate change is for us what the threatened destruction of Israel was for the biblical prophets, a singular opportunity for people to look inward, to reexamine their life at the deepest level. At least
24 In linking neurosis with the loss of imagination, I follow psychologist

Harper, 2006, 26-35.


omas Moore,

e Care of the Soul. New York:

Fig. 1 source: NOAA State of the Climate Global Analysis 2007, http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/index.php? report=global&year=2007&month=ann, visited 12/20/09. Firmage, Light in Darkness, 21 of 90

from the prophetic point of view, Israel failed to seize that opportunity. But their failure has been our gain, for it prompted the most extraordinary outpouring of radical ethics the world has ever seen. Prophecy, writes Heschel, is a moment of unshrouding, an opening of the eyes, a lifting of the curtain. Such moments are rare in history.26 Its easy, especially those of us who cannot call ourselves true believers, to dismiss the relevance of the prophets. But I cant. In what Mormon scholar (!) Hugh Nibley called the long night of human history, there are precious few shining lights. I think of Mahatma Gandhi, Jesus, and the Buddha of Compassion. And, I think of the prophets. What these men represent for me is the refusal to accept that the world we create for ourselves cannot be something dramatically better than what we have seen so far. For me, the signicance of these visionaries lies not only in their moral outrage but also in their willingness to think and to do the unthinkable in the quest to transform their people. self-induced catastrophe. dwelling. e prophets asserted, for example, that being Gods chosen people was no protection against folly and ey proclaimed that worship was meaningless, indeed oensive to God, if it ey foretold the destruction of the temple, Gods own ere was no wasnt accompanied by righteous living.

ey pummeled government ocials, ecclesiastical leaders, business elites, and ordinary

people. And they illustrated their message with outrageous acts guaranteed to shock.

idea so sacred, no person or institution so powerful, that the prophets were unwilling to attack it in their quest to shatter the peoples complacency. In the biblical view, to be a prophet is to be an iconoclast. But then, to build Zion one has to be. At some point, every society, if it is to thrive, must shatter its icons. ese have their proper place.

But mistaken for God, they become demonic. Our icons consumption, growth, prot, extreme individualism, and superpower now threaten life itself. To overcome these demons, we, like the prophets, must think the unthinkable and we must do it. And, as in Isaiahs time, our fate depends on whether we act while there is still time to prevent catastrophe. What holds us back is our own success. Politics, business, and religion booming industries and vested interests all are


Op. cit., I:193.

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...isolated, self-subsisting, self-indulgent... e answers oered [are] unrelated to the problems, indierent to...mans suspended sensitivity in the face of stupendous challenge, indierent to a situation in which good and evil [have become] irrelevant, in which man [is] increasingly callous to catastrophe and ready to suspend the principle of truth...[T]he terms, motivations, and concerns which dominate our thinking may prove destructive of the roots of human responsibility and treasonable to the ultimate ground of human solidarity. e challenge we are all exposed to, and the dreadful shame that shatters our capacity for inner peace, defy the ways and patterns of our thinking. One is forced to admit that some of the causes and motives of our thinking have led our existence astray, that speculative [or any other] prosperity is not an answer to spiritual bankruptcy... e prophet was an individual who said No to his society, condemning its habits and assumptions, its complacency... Prophecy ceased; the prophets endure and can only be ignored at the risk of our own despair. It is for us to decide whether freedom is self-assertion or response to a demand; whether the ultimate situation is conict or concern.27 As a catalyst for change, climate change is a godsend. It will challenge us like nothing else in history. It will be our doom or our nest hour. e choice is ours.


Op. cit., I:xiv-xv.

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e end of the world is nigh, and its already been published in Nature. Mark Lynas28

What baes the prophet is the disparity between the power and impact of God and the immense indierence, unyieldingness, sluggishness, and inertia of the heart. Gods thunderous voice is shaking heaven and earth, and man does not hear the faintest sound. e Lord roars like a lion...his word is like re, like a hammer which breaks the rock in pieces...and the people go about unmoved, undisturbed, unaware. What to the prophet is like the sun piercing the thickest cloud remains unnoticed by the people. Abraham Heschel29 So, what is climate change?30 Simply put, it is increasing global temperatures and their related climate and environmental eects. Climate change isnt a theory about climate, and it isnt projections of things that could happen. Climate change is a present reality. Its a measured, tested, visually veriable reality. Since the beginning of the industrial revolution, global average annual temperatures have risen by 1.3F. is is a fact, and its not open to dispute. In Figs. 1 and 2, you can see this measured fact for yourselves.31 e climate change were witnessing today is caused by human-generated carbon dioxide or CO2. CO2 makes up only four hundredths of a percent of earths atmosphere, and human-generated CO2
Author of Six Degrees. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic, 2008. e quotation is from Lynass website: http:// www.marklynas.org/2007/3/15/to-the-end-of-the-earth-six-degrees-in-the-sunday-times, visited 1/3/10.
28 29 30

Heschel, op. cit., 188-189.

e following section summarizes a much longer discussion of present and future climate change eects in a document entitled A Call for Leadership, which I prepared in early 2009 as a petition to the administration of the University of Utah. e petition is available for download on my website: http://web.me.com/ermage/Edwin_Firmage_Photography/ Blog/Entries/2009/2/2_A_Declaration_of_Energy_Indepenence_les/A%20Call%20for%20Leadership.pdf. e petition was met with glacial indierence, not least by faculty members who fear to anger Utahs reactionary state legislature, which controls the universitys purse. Fig. 2 source: Wikipedia Commons, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Instrumental_Temperature_Record.svg, based on instrumental data compiled by the Hadley Centre and the University of East Anglia, visited 12/19/09.

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Fig. 2

makes up only 3.4% of all CO2 generated each year. But human CO2 is nonetheless important. Natural CO2 is balanced by natural sinks that recycle it, keeping historical CO2 levels at 180 to 280 parts per million (ppm). Human-generated CO2 has no natural sinks, so extra CO2 accumulates in the atmosphere. Todays CO2 concentration is 385 ppm, a level not seen in at least 800,000 years, and this number is rising rapidly, and could reach over 900 ppm by 2100. is rise is unprecedented and


ese historical and

Fig. 3

present CO2 concentrations are also facts and are not subject to dispute. You can see this for yourselves in Fig. 3.32 What makes rising CO2 concentrations dangerous is that they give us too much of a good thing. Earth is a warm and hospitable place for life because the atmosphere, like the earths surface, is full of water. Water vapor is the most important and

Fig. 3 source: United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), based on research by Oak Ridge National Laboratory, http://maps.grida.no/go/graphic/historical-trends-in-carbon-dioxide-concentrations-and-temperature-on-ageological-and-recent-time-scale, visited 12/19/09. While this graph goes back only 400,000 years, ice core analysis from Antarctica can now take us back 800,000 years, over which time the generalization made here stands.

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Fig. 4

abundant greenhouse gas by far. It works by trapping a portion of the energy coming from the sun. But a lot of reected solar energy still escapes back into space just enough to keep things here from endlessly heating up. Life on earth as we know it exists because of the balance that earth has struck between too much and too little trapped energy. What human CO2 does is to throw this balance o kilter by plugging up holes in the absorption spectrum of water vapor and preventing more of that reected solar energy from escaping into space, as you can see from Fig. 4.33 is is the cause of climate change.

Who says so? Virtually every credible climate scientist on earth, and every national science organization on earth without exception. For over two decades now, scientists around the world have coordinated their eorts to study climate change under the auspices of the U.N.s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, which comprises scientists from 130 countries. e IPCCs latest summary of climate data, which was issued in 2007, involved over 450 lead authors (all climate experts), 800 contributing authors (also climate experts), and 2,500 peer reviewers, making this one of the most thoroughly scrutinized subjects in the history of science.34 e IPCC concludes that the evidence for climate change is unequivocal, and that the cause is very likely us. Very likely is dened to mean that the odds are greater than 9 in 10. considered judgment of 97% of the worlds climatologists. Now, it may be that the scientists are wrong. But, if you consulted ten doctors about a health problem, or ten investment consultants about a business deal, and nine of the ten gave you the same advice, whose advice would you follow? is is the

33 34

Fig. 4 source: http://www.atmosphere.mpg.de/enid/253.html, based on Climate Website of the German Museum.

is is the assessment of Americas Union of Concerned Scientists, whose review of IPPC methodology is very useful. e review is available online at http://www.ucsusa.org/global_warming/science_and_impacts/science/ipccbackgrounder.html. Firmage, Light in Darkness, 26 of 90

In fact, the evidences of climate change are all around us, and you dont necessarily have to be an expert to see them. Lets go through these quickly, starting with the temperature increases. 1. Increasing air and ocean temperatures. As I said, global annual average temperatures have increased 1.3F since the beginning of the industrial age. Its important to note that this is both a global and
Fig. 5

an average gure. Regionally, theres considerable variation from this number in both directions. In some parts of the world, such as the western United States and the Arctic, temperatures have risen between 2.5 and 3.5F.35 In general, the Northern Hemisphere has experienced more warming than the Southern, as you can see from Fig. 5.36 Its also important to note that global warming doesnt necessarily mean

that temperatures increase continuously. As you can see from Figs. 1-3, there is enormous uctuation in year-to-year temperature. Climate, in other words, is not the same thing as weather. Climate is about larger, more permanent phenomena. When dening climate, you look not at individual events or individual years, but at trends. Temperature trends indicative of climate change include the fact that seven of the eight warmest years on record in the American West and ve of the ten warmest years nationally occurred between 1999 and 2007, with hottest-ever summers being recorded in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming in 2007.37 And this is not a purely regional

On western U.S. climate, see Hotter and Drier: e Wests Changed Climate. Rocky Mountain Climate Organization and NRDC, 2008, available online at http://www.nrdc.org/globalWarming/west/west.pdf, visited 12/20/09.
35 36Fig.

5 source: Global Warming, Wikipedia, based on NASA GISS Surface Temperature Analysis, http:// commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Global_Warming_Map.jpg, visited 12/19/09. For national data through 2007, see NOAAs State of the Climate National Overview, http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/ sotc/?report=national&year=2007&month=13&submitted=Get+Report, visited 12/20/09.

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phenomenon. All ten of the ten warmest years on record globally have occurred since 1995.38 In 2003, Europe experienced a record heat wave that claimed the lives of 35,000-50,000 people, making this the biggest natural disaster in modern European history. In the Arctic, temperatures are higher now than they have been at any time in the last thousand years, and theyre rising two times faster than the global average. Oceans, because of their greater heat capacity are even better barometers of climate change than air. Here the trends are nothing short of astonishing, and I want to stress, because climate change skeptics always focus on the use of predictive models, that these too are measured phenomena, not projections. Arctic ocean temperatures have risen as much as 9F in some areas since 2000.39 And, again, this is not a regional blip. In the waters around the United Kingdom, seven of the ten warmest years since 1870 have occurred in the last decade.40 It takes a great deal of heat to raise overall temperatures in vast bodies of water like the oceans. So you can imagine the sort of sustained warming of the planet that is represented even in a seasonal and regional nine degree (!) rise in Arctic water temperature much less a permanent 1.3 F rise in global ocean temperatures. 2. e length and intensity of the re season. e re season in the Western U.S. today is two and half ese I stress

months longer than it was from 1970 to 1986.41 Fires now are also more intense, destroying six and half times as much forest as in the 70s and 80s. And res are four times as frequent. the point again are facts of measured data, not models or projections. e re years of 2004,

See the Global Temperatures summary in NOAAs 2007,http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/? report=global&year=2009&month=13&submitted=Get+Report. is trend continues into 2009, with projections that the 1998-2008 decade will be the warmest on record worldwide, http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/? report=global&year=2009&month=13&submitted=Get+Report.

A. Proshutinsky, et al., NOAA Arctic Report Card: Update for 2009, online at http://www.arctic.noaa.gov/ reportcard/ocean.html, visited 1/20/10.

Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership, http://www.mccip.org.uk/arc/2007/Temperature.htm, visited 12/20/09. See also the European Environmental Agencys Rising Sea Surface Temperature: Towards Ice-free Arctic Summers and a Changing Marine Food Chain, at http://www.eea.europa.eu/themes/coast_sea/sea-surface-temperature.

A. L. Westerling, et al., Warming and Earlier Spring Increases Western U. S. Forest Wildre Activity. Science 18 (2006), 940-943, available online at http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/313/5789/940, visited 12/20/09.

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2005, 2006, and 2007 were each successive record breakers.42 In 2006 and 2007 alone, nearly 20 million acres of forest were destroyed. 3. ats ten times the area of Yellowstone National Park.

e spread of pests such as the pine bark beetle. Fires are not the only threat that climate change

poses to our forests today. With warmer winter temperatures, pine beetle populations, once controlled by deep winter cold, are exploding all over the Northern Hemisphere. In British Columbia, for example, 33,000,000 acres of lodge pole forest, 40% of the regions total forest, have been destroyed or severely damaged by pine beetle, with projections from the Canadian government that British Columbia could lose nearly 80% of its forest cover by 2015!43 Tree mortality rates in the U.S. have more than doubled over the last few decades.44 4. e melting of arctic permafrost. Permafrost contains almost two trillion tons of carbon, an amount e

equal to that of the worlds rainforests.45 As it melts, permafrost emits CO2 or CH4 (methane). size of France and Germany combined, has melted in the last four years.47 In places, methane is bubbling out of solution so energetically that the water does not freeze even in winter.

latter is 20-25X more potent as a greenhouse gas than CO2.46 In Siberia, 1,000,000 km2, an area the is is not a

model or a projection, but present reality, and this one fact alone may spell the end of life as we

Yearly wildre data available on the National Interagency Fire Centers website: http://www.nifc.gov/re_info/ res_acres.htm, visited 12/20/09.

Pine Beetle Moves South in B.C. Vancouver Sun, 9/18/07, available online at http://www2.canada.com/ vancouversun/news/story.html?id=08c2bac3-bcb3-4090-bb08-43f375d8caa7&k=31916, visted 12/20/09.

Phillip J. van Mantgem, et al., Widespread Increase of Tree Mortality Rates in the Western United States. Science 23 (2009), 521-524. Summary available on at: http://www2.canada.com/vancouversun/news/story.html?id=08c2bac3bcb3-4090-bb08-43f375d8caa7&k=31916, visted 12/20/09.

Edward A. G. Schurr, et al., Vulnerability of Permafrost Carbon to Climate Change: Implications for the Global Carbon Cycle. Bioscience 58 (2008), 701-714, online at http://www.bioone.org/doi/full/10.1641/B580807?prevSearch= %5Ball:%2520schuur%5D%2520AND%2520%5Bpublisher:%2520bioone%5D&searchHistoryKey=&cookieSet=1; Amy Mayer, Permafrost in Flux: Tracking Carbon in the Alaskan Tundra. Bioscience 58 (2008), 96-100, online at http://www.bioone.org/doi/full/10.1641/B580203?prevSearch=%5Ball:%2520schuur%5D%2520AND %2520%5Bpublisher:%2520bioone%5D&searchHistoryKey=, visted 12/20/09.

See the wonderful collection of useful documents in the Max Planck Institutes Atmospheric Chemistry Departments website at : http://www.atmosphere.mpg.de/enid/253.html, visted 12/20/09.

Climate Warning as Siberia Melts. New Scientist, August 11, 2005 at http://www.newscientist.com/article/ mg18725124.500, visted 12/20/09.

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know it on earth. While Judge Dee Benson doesnt think were in a crisis that merits civil disobedience, we are and it does. It merits revolution.48 5. Loss of Arctic summer ice. In addition to being home to animals such as the polar bear, Arctic ice helps to moderate global climate. It reects 80% of incident energy back into space, while water absorbs 90% of this energy. Loss of ice thus leads to increased air, water, and land temperatures throughout the region. Not surprisingly, these have been accompanied by record breaking ice shrinkage in 2005 and again in 2007. According to one of the worlds leading experts on the Arctic, this area could be ice-free in summer as early as 2013, decades before the IPCCs current projected dates.49 Like the melting of permafrost, with which its inseparably connected, the melting of summer ice is a tipping point that could trigger runaway temperature increases beyond anything yet imagined by the IPCC. 6. e loss of glaciers worldwide. Globally, since 1945, the mean mass balance of all glaciers has

declined by about 20%, and rate of shrinkage appears to be increasing. Regional decreases are often signicantly greater. In Europe and the Caucasus, glacial cover decreased by about 35% between 1850 and 1970 and by another 22% between 1970 and 2000. Of Glacier National Parks original 150 glaciers, only 35 remain today, and these are expected to disappear by 2050. Over the course of the 20th century, Central Asian glaciers have declined by 25-35%, the glaciers of Afghanistan by

Bogus bidders global warming defense rejected. Salt Lake Tribune, 11/17/2009. U.S. District Judge Dee Benson banned climate activist Tim DeChristopher from presenting any evidence on how the threat of climate change inuenced his actions in protesting the BLM auction of oil and gas leases near national parks in Utah on the grounds that there was no imminent threat.

Al Gore quoted this number in his address to the Copenhagen climate conference in December 2009, citing the research of Wieslaw Maslowski, who later denied that he had made such a prediction to Gore. But in fact Maslowski had made such predictions not once but multiple times over a period of several years. I picked up the number from articles of Maslowskis that I read in the preparation of my petition for the University of Utah in early 2009. e change in Maslowskis willingness to go out on a limb in public is perhaps the result of the Climategate controversy, which appears to be making scientists nervous about saying anything that might embroil them in the increasingly frenzied conservative backlash. eres a useful, if brief, summary of the Maslowski ip-op in Je Goldstein, Firestorm in the Arctic: Al Gore Vindicated on Comments in Copenhagen, Hungton Post, Dec. 16, 2009, online at http:// www.hungtonpost.com/je-goldstein/restorm-in-the-arctic-a_b_394084.html, visited 2/11/2010.

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e glaciers of the Himalayan-Tibetan plateau are the water tanks of Asia, providing water e loss of glaciers

during the dry season to two billion people in China, India, and Southeast Asia. to seasonally run dry. entire world.

could cause glacier-fed rivers such as the Indus, Ganges, Brahmaputra, Mekong, Yangtze, and Yellow is prospect should keep you up at night, because it spells disaster for the

As you can see, there are many dierent indicators from all over the planet that global warming is a present, and a very frightening reality. And all of this from a mere 1.3F rise in average temperature. But were just getting started with global warming. is past year, even in the midst of the worst

economic recession since the Depression, world pollution increased 2%, and it has been rising at an annual rate of 3% or more for some time. At present, the worlds biggest polluters, the U.S. and China, have yet to adopt any meaningful steps to eliminate carbon emissions. In fact, in China, a new coal-red power plant goes into operation every week or two. e implications of the combination of continued growth in carbon emissions and the political stalemate on meaningful change are what Id like to turn to now: the coming eects of climate change. 1. Increased ocean acidity. e pH of the pre-industrial oceans was 8.179. Current ocean pH is 8.104.

At the present rate of increase, ocean pH is expected to be at least 7.824 by 2100, a change of 225%.51 Elevated ocean pH and temperature are suspects in the worldwide decline of coral reefs,

Global Glacier Changes: Facts and Figures. World Glacier Monitoring Service. United Nations Environment Programme, 2008, at http://www.grid.unep.ch/glaciers/pdfs/glaciers.pdf, visited 12/20/09 and 1/31/10. While controversy now surrounds the prediction of the IPCC that the Himalayan glaciers could disappear by 2035, it is a fact that glaciers everywhere are rapidly shrinking, and that this shrinkage is the result of the still modest rise in average global temperatures of just 1.3F. e U.N. study quoted here is a useful corrective to the over-concentration on individual glaciers of the Himalayas that has followed in the wake of the 2035 prediction controversy. Individual glacier behavior depends on many factors other than climate, including latitude, altitude, precipitation, local topography, surging, calving, and debris cover. As in the issue of climate change itself, one must look at general trends across a region and across multiple regions to see the big picture. e U.N. study, which looks at 36,000 length change observations and 3,400 mass balance measurements from 1,800 and 230 glaciers respectively, clearly shows that the trend in Central Asia and across regions worldwide is toward signicant and rapid retreat. e U.N. concludes that this may lead to the deglaciation of large parts of many mountain ranges by the end of the 21st century. If, as seems likely based on the presently increasing rate of temperature rise, we nd ourselves in a world that is 11F warmer (or more), this prognosis appears, if anything, to be conservative.
50 51

pH is logarithmic scale, so small numerical changes represent large natural eects.

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25% of which have disappeared in the last 50 years.52 Another 32% are at risk by 2100. Twenty-ve percent of all ocean life is sustained by coral reefs. Where will ocean life gets its food in 2100 if 50% or more of our reefs are gone? And where will we get our food if ocean life is threatened? I also remind you that 50% of earths oxygen comes from the oceans. If we kill these, we kill everything. 2. Loss of the Amazon rainforest. e Amazon is home to 20% of all species on earth, and produces

20% of the earths oxygen. Loss of the Amazon would be a catastrophic blow to the biosphere, and as things are going now, the Amazon will disappear before the end of this century. In 2005, the Amazon experienced record drought due to elevated Atlantic Ocean temperatures that prevented trade winds from bringing in moisture. Two to three years of such drought could be catastrophic. e Hadley Centre projects that the probability of 2005-level drought in the Amazon will rise to 50% (that is, once every other year) by 2030 and 90% (every year) by 2100. Besides species extinction and decreased planetary oxygen levels, loss of the Amazon will have other eects that are in themselves climate-changing factors. If the Amazon dries up as predicted, it will be the worlds largest tinder box, a two million square mile megare waiting to happen. 3. Mass extinction. According to a study by the University of Leeds in England, one in three plant and animal species could become extinct by 2050 on the basis of mid-range climate models.53 Fifty percent could disappear in worst-case scenarios. Right now, were on a worse than worst-case trajectory. According to the IPCC, if temperature rises exceed 6F, the extinction rate could climb to 70%. You have to ask yourself at what point does a system so damaged collapse entirely? People who look at climate change as a matter for future generations to solve obviously do not understand that it wont be their great great great grandchildren but their kids who will face a dying biosphere. I may even live to see it.

John Weier, Mapping the Decline of Coral Reefs. NASA Earth Observatory, March 12, 2001, at http:// earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/Coral/, visited 12/20/09.

Chris D. omas, et al., Extinction Risk from Climate Change. Nature 427 (2004), 145-148. Summary at http:// www.nature.com/nature/journal/v427/n6970/full/nature02121.html, visited 12/20/09.

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4. More severe and more frequent extreme weather events. One of the best, if necessarily oversimplied, summaries of climate change that Ive seen is by Stephen Schneider, the editor of the journal Climate Change. Global warming intensies the hydrologic cycle. Where the atmosphere is congured to have high pressure and droughts, global warming will mean long dry periods. Where the atmosphere is congured to be wet, you will get more rain...Global warming will intensify droughts and it will intensify oods.54 Many scientists suggest that global warming will bring more frequent and more severe extreme weather. While one cannot say that the occurrence or severity of any one storm such as Hurricane Katrina, the sixth-strongest hurricane ever recorded, or Hurricane Rita, the fourthstrongest, we can expect an increase in the intensity of such storms. Hurricane Katrina was the biggest natural disaster in American history, causing $150 billion in damage. How many such storms, especially if they become frequent, can our system handle before it collapses? 5. Rising ocean levels. As agents of destruction, future Katrinas will have an advantage over todays because theyll start at one to seven feet higher due to sea level rise. Over the last hundred years, oceans have risen at the average annual rate of 1.8 mm/year. Since 1993, that rate has increased to 3.1 mm/year, or a foot a century. Since the pre-industrial era began, oceans have risen about seventeen inches. According to the IPCC, oceans are projected to rise by as much as another two feet by 2100. But this number is almost certainly far too conservative. e rise in ocean levels to date is entirely due to the thermal expansion of water, and does not include increases from melting ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica. New data from these suggests an additional rise of three to ve feet by 2100. Many of the worlds most populous cities such as Bangkok, Shanghai, and Tianjinn, are located on coastlines or in ood plains. Millions of people in Vietnam, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and China live in ood plains. And how about New York, Washington, Miami, Seattle, Los Angeles, and San Diego? Do we imagine that we can dike every city on every coast?

Warming Will Exacerbate Global Water Conicts. Washington Post, 8/20/2007, online at http:// www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/08/19/AR2007081900967.html, visited 12/20/09.

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6. Health eects. Warming climate enables insect-borne diseases such as malaria, yellow fever, and dengue fever to spread into temperate regions.55 River and coastal ooding compromises drinking water with sewage, heavy metals, and pesticides, and spreads water-borne diseases such as cholera, typhoid, and hepatitis. Air pollution from smoke and ozone increases the incidence of asthma and pneumonia. eres a precedent in Americas own recent past for the kind of health eects that global warming portends. In the Dust Bowl, people experienced what was popularly called Dust Pneumonia, a sometimes fatal irritation of the lungs induced by breathing the ne dust that was ubiquitous during the areas frequent dust storms. When climate models suggest permanent Dust Bowl level drought in the Southwest, you have to ask yourself whether Dust Pneumonia will become part of our everyday vocabulary, and whether our health system will be able to cope, not just with ten years of health consequences, as in the Dust Bowl, but with permanently elevated levels of lung and heart disease and heat-related illnesses. Will our health system generally be able to cope with possibly epidemic levels of infectious diseases, some of them new? 7. Loss of food production. A few lucky humans can escape the heat in air-conditioned homes. But farms cant be air conditioned. And the projected temperature increases bode ill for a planet that

See, for example, Climate Change Futures: Health, Ecological and Economic Dimensions. Harvard Center for Health and the Global Environment and Swiss Re, 2005, at http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v408/n6809/full/ 408184a0.html, visited 12/20/09.

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Fig. 6

must have more food, not less. Over the next century, ignoring climate change, earths population is projected to grow from 6.5 to 12 billion. at means we need to double our food supply. But a ey suggest a greater than 50% growing food supply is not what the climate models hold in store.

decline in Indias wheat-growing capacity by 2050 and a loss of more than 30% of Africas maize crop, its most important agricultural product, by 2030 (IPCC). Overall food production in Africa could be cut in half by 2080. And dont imagine that this is a ird-World problem. As Fig. 6 shows, temperature increases in our own Breadbasket will be pushing plants to the level of breaking point.56 In the coming century, the climate of Illinois will become like that of Texas, and Texas will become an oven. Increased temperatures are a direct threat to the stability of agriculture, and they bring with them other eects. Summer heat combined with pollution creates ozone, and ozone is extremely detrimental to crops. Increased danger from weeds, pests, and disease is also a likely correlate with higher temperature, as are extreme weather events that will locally devastate crops. 8. Water shortages. One in six people worldwide depend on water from glaciers and snowpack, and glaciers especially are in steep decline. In areas aected by drought, including the western U.S., water resources could drop by 30%. And even in areas where presently enough water is available, we could
Fig. 6 source: United States Global Change Research Program, http://www.globalchange.gov/publications/reports/ scientic-assessments/us-impacts/climate-change-impacts-by-sector/agriculture, visited 12/19/09.

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face shortages. According to the IPCC, hundreds of millions in Africa and tens of millions in Latin America who now have enough water will be short of it in 20 years. By 2100, according to the IPCC, as many as three billion people may be threatened by water shortages. Let me bring this particular threat home. From 1999 to 2005, the Colorado Plateau experienced its worst drought in 500 years, reducing Colorado River ow from 15 million acre feet/year to 3.8, and dropping Lake Powell to one third of capacity. at was ve years of severe drought starting from a full reservoir. Two to three more years of such drought would have brought Lake Powell to dead pool, the point at which no water can leave the dam, the point at which the Grand Canyon has no water. We know from tree ring studies that severe droughts lasting longer than ve years have occurred, and that is without climate change.57 Today, Lake Powell is about two-thirds full, and drought conditions continue. A return to severe drought could drain Lake Powell, and quickly. e most thorough study of the Colorado basin to date, inclusive of climate change, suggests that the combination of drought and continued growth could lead to water shortages severe enough to depopulate the Wests megacities. By 2022, according to a conservative climate model, Phoenix, which gets 60% of its water from the Colorado, could become a ghost town. Nor will Phoenix be the only casualty. Las Vegas gets 90% of its water from the Colorado, and Los Angeles over 50%. All southern California agriculture depends on the Colorado.

For this and the following material on the Colorado Plateau, Im heavily indebted to James Powell, Dead Pool: Lake Powell, Global Warming, and the Future of Water in the West. Berkeley: University of California, 2009. I called attention to Powells book and its implications for Utah and the LDS Church in an op-ed published in the Salt Lake Tribune, January 9, 2009, available online at: http://web.me.com/ermage/Supporting_Documents/Writing_on_the_Environment_les/ West%20Hurtling%20toward%20Water%20Crisis.html.

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Fig. 7

Not only are we doing nothing to prevent this climate-induced water crisis, we are building as if there is no tomorrow. Phoenix, Las Vegas, and our own St. George are among the most rapidly growing cities in the U.S. rough our growth-for-growths sake and growth-at-all-costs policies, we are setting ourselves up for a compounded disaster that will make the experience of

the Okies look like a cakewalk. During the Dust Bowl of the 30s, 2.5 million Americans were displaced. Many of the displaced, as readers of Steinbecks Grapes of Wrath will recall, ended up in California. But todays West is full. eres no place and there are no resources to accommodate environmental refugees. What will happen, then, when not 2.5 but 10-20 million residents of the Southwest are forced from their homes because there simply isnt enough water? To close out the water issue, Id just like to show you graphically what our future in Utah under climate change looks like (Fig. 7).58 It is as bleak as the color scheme of this writing on the wall.59 9. Social unrest and instability. Environmental changes on the scale evident in the foregoing will put unprecedented pressure on the worlds poorest countries, which are entirely unequal to the task of responding either to the environmental changes or the consequent social upheaval. For the World, future climate change will be cataclysmic. ird

Fig. 7 source: United States Global Change Research Program, http://www.globalchange.gov/publications/reports/ scientic-assessments/us-impacts/regional-climate-change-impacts/southwest, visited 12/19/09.
58 59 Since completing this essay, I have written more extensively on the water crisis that faces the West. My

ndings are available in a slide presentation available on my website: http://web.me.com/e rmage/Edwin_Firmage_Photography/Blog/Entries/ 2010/3/27_Water- e_Coming_Crisis_ les/Water- e%20Coming%20Crisis.html. Firmage, Light in Darkness, 37 of 90

But the impacts, direct and indirect, will not be limited to the destitute

ird World.

e U.S. has just spent

$3 trillion protecting its oil interests in the Gulf. What will be the cost of keeping a hungry and ird World from destroying itself and the U.S. in the process? How, for example, will the U.S. react to and be aected by a war between nuclear powers India and Pakistan over dwindling water in the Indus or between China and Russia over the water and food resources of Siberia? And how will even we, the richest nation on earth, cope with the many demands on diminishing dollars for agriculture, health systems, coastal cities, desert cities, power systems, and a military all under unprecedented stress? 10. e one-two punch. Tough as any one of these challenges would be, we will not face them one by ings dont just get worse

one but simultaneously, and with increasing intensity and frequency.

under climate change, they get exponentially worse. And I havent even mentioned one other gigantic factor that well have to deal with while all this other stu is going on: the end of oil or peak oil. While there is considerable debate about the real extent of oil reserves, a growing number of oil experts believe that world production is now in or shortly will be in irreversible decline. A U.S. Energy Information Administration study found that non-OPEC and non-Russian production worldwide peaked around the year 2006, production in some countries such as the U.S. having peaked long before that (1970 in the U.S.). How long will reserves last? At present ocial but unaudited and highly suspect numbers and at the present rate of production, the reserves of Saudi Arabia, the worlds largest producer, are sucient to last for another 70 years.60 But the true size of Saudia Arabias estimated reserves and those of other OPEC producers are questionable. In the 1980s, OPEC introduced a country quota system that sets each nations output based on its reserves. Immediately, estimated reserves rose sharply, raising questions about whether the new numbers have any basis in fact under the ground. In 2007, Sadad al Husseini, a former VP of Exploration for Aramco, asserted that 300 billion of the worlds estimated 1200 billion barrels of oil reserves should be considered speculative and not available for production. In a best case, at least with todays extraction technology and at ocially stated reserve levels and current rates of production, reserves

For a useful summary, see Wikipedia, Oil Reserves, at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oil_reserves, visited 12/20/09.

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will last another 50 years or so. If actual, usable reserves are as low as Al Husseini states, they may not last through mid-century. ere is uncertainty here at many levels. Not all oil in a eld can be economically harvested. Rising prices and improved technology may make previously uneconomical extraction worthwhile. And, there is always a possibility, though it is unlikely, that major new sources will be found. All of this is true. But history is a caution. U.S. oil production peaked in 1970, and in spite of then record-high prices in the wake of the oil crisis of 70s and great improvements in oil exploration technology, U.S. oil production has continued to decline. Another problem with the notion of the previously uneconomic becoming attractive is that other factors such as the eects of global warming may take options o the table that could otherwise be considered. We may simply not have the means, however willing we are to pay the higher price. In 2005, the U.S. Department of Energy published a report entitled Peaking of World Oil Production: Impacts, Mitigation, and Risk Management, also known as the Hirsch Report.61 e report concluded that with emergency-level action, the fastest humanly possible, and extraordinary government intervention the world could transition to an alternative, oil-less economy in 20 years without substantial negative impacts. With less than 20 years, the impacts rise. But 20 years is a best case in a world that is rapidly becoming less than the best of all possible worlds. Hirsch did not include in his time estimate the possible impact of other factors such as climate change that might compete for the attention and dollars that will be required to meet even a 20-year gure. What will happen, for example, if, under severe climate stress in the year 2025, America experiences two Katrina-level hurricanes, one that destroys half of the city of Houston and another that levels Miami Beach, while, simultaneously, wildres escalate out of control in the Oakland Hills, destroying 30% of the cities of Oakland, Berkeley, and Emeryville, and Glenn Canyon Dam reaches dead pool, which necessitates the immediate creation of new and extremely expensive diversion tunnels around the dam? What if such catastrophes are regular occurrences during the time that the Peak Oil transition is in process?


Available online at http://www.acus.org/docs/051007-Hirsch_World_Oil_Production.pdf.

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e point is that our ability to respond to Peak Oil without societal upheaval will be constrained by factors that we cannot now anticipate that may make 20 years seem wildly optimistic. Given the time, eort, and contingencies involved in making a successful transition to an oil-less economy, and since we do not and probably never will know precisely what the true state of world reserves is, and therefore what our likely deadline is, it would be highly imprudent to suppose that the need for action now is anything but acute. One of the most sobering ndings of the Hirsch Report, based on several case studies, is that it will likely not be evident even as little as a year before production peaks that peak is imminent. In other words, the world will have less than a years warning. According to Hirsch, the relative risks of premature action and failure to act in a timely manner are asymmetric. Mitigation initiated prematurely would result in a relatively modest misallocation of resources. Failure to initiate timely mitigation with an appropriate lead-time is certain to result in very severe economic consequences. is is global warming all over again.

So, we come to this: Humans are creating a new world order, and its not an order under which most humans, or indeed most life forms, will be able to survive. to x after the fact with technological wizardry. hundreds of years. ese are not changes that we will be able e CO2 that we put into the air today will remain

there for hundreds of years, and the eects of this gas on our climate will therefore persist for e only cure for climate change is prevention. Whats more, half measures are as good as no measures. If only half of Antarctica melts, were still facing global catastrophe. If only the Colorado dries up and not the Ganges, were still facing catastrophe. Of all of the dangers facing us, none is more insidious than that form of self-delusion that says that we can and should move deliberately, cautiously, and incrementally toward sustainability. change, it spells disaster. is is our business-as-usual approach to things, and for many things its the right kind of approach. For climate is is the kind of change that our churches, and universities, and, yes, environmental organizations have so far adopted. And it is a moral outrage. What we face today is not primarily an environmental problem; it is a moral problem. It is in fact the moral problem. How we respond to this moral problem will be the measure of our species. So far, we rate an F.

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While this America settles in the mould of its vulgarity, heavily thickening to empire, And protest, only a bubble in the molten mass, pops and sighs out, and the mass hardens, I sadly smiling remember that the ower fades to make fruit, the fruit rots to make earth. Out of the mother; and through the spring exultances, ripeness and decadence, and home to the mother. Robinson Jeers62 So, how do prevent climate change? According to the IPCC, we need to implement IMMEDIATE and DRAMATIC reductions in greenhouse gases: 50-85% GLOBAL reductions over 2000 levels by 2050. What do these numbers mean? At 50%, the probability of holding temperature increases to a hopefully livable 3.6 to 4.3F increase above pre-industrial levels, is 50%. At 85% reductions, the probability of staying in that 3-4 range is 85%. Clearly, given the stakes involved, mandatory global 85% reductions over 2000 levels by 2050 should be considered an absolute minimum. for 17% by 2020. Now, the implications of these global reductions by 2050 are even more radical for the U.S. For the world to reach 50% by 2050, the U.S. must reduce its emissions by 88%, and for the world to reach 85%, the U.S. must reduce by 96%! Eectively, we Americans must set ourselves the minimum goal of zero carbon emissions by 2050. So, within just 40 years, at most, Americans must replace every gas-powered engine, every natural gas powered heater and power plant, and every coal-red power plant with a clean, non-emitting alternative. We must reinvent agriculture to work without cheap fossil fuels. We must reengineer our transportation system to work without trucks and airplanes. And we must do all of this in less than 50 years. If this imperative, this minimal imperative, doesnt scare the hell out of you, you arent listening, because this means reinventing America in just 40 years. is is a far cry from Utahs voluntary 25% by 2025 over 2005 levels or the Obama administrations pitiful plan

From Shine, Perishing Republic in Richard Ellmann, ed., University Press, 1976, 540.

e New Oxford Book of American Verse. New York: Oxford

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But many believe that the 2007 IPCC goals are not aggressive enough.

e 2014 report is almost

certain to up the ante, and others have already done so. Lester Brown of the Earth Policy Institute and longtime researcher on climate change believes that the world target should be 80% by 2020. For what its worth, I happen to agree with Lester, because every indication from the science is that reality is outstripping the projections. What we thought was worst-case is in fact far from worst. An example is the melting of both the Arctic and the Antarctic. Far from giving us an unnecessary scare, as climate change skeptics claim, science is falling behind reality. e need for urgent and extreme action emerges from tipping points such as the melting of the permafrost. Once permafrost begins melting on a large scale, it has the potential to set in motion feedback loops that will create runaway climate change that we will be unable to stop REGARDLESS OF WHAT WE DO. and methane into the atmosphere. permafrost to melt, and so on. e feedback loop works like this. Increasing global temperatures cause permafrost to melt, releasing additional natural (not man-made) carbon dioxide ese in turn cause temperatures to rise even faster, causing more e biosphere as a whole could become a gigantic feedback loop.

Most general climate models to date assume a static biosphere. But, the biospheres ability to absorb CO2 is in fact climate-dependent. At present, about half of anthropogenic CO2 is absorbed by the biosphere (land and oceans). e land component of this form of carbon sequestration, however, may become a casualty of climate change. A study by the Hadley Center suggests that the land could become a net source of CO2 by 2050, and that as a result, atmospheric CO2 concentrations may be 250 ppm higher than predicted by static biosphere models.63 An additional temperature rise of 2.7F over and above that predicted by static models (an increase of 75%) would accompany these higher CO2 concentrations, and this additional rise kicks in further climatic changes. not get a second chance. e caution of the tipping points is that this is one time when we either do things right the rst time, or we die. We will

Peter M. Cox, et al., Acceleration of Global Warming Due to Carbon-Cycle Feedbacks in a Coupled Climate Model. Nature 408 (2000), 184-187. Summary at http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v408/n6809/full/408184a0.html, visited 12/20/09.

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So, as we contemplate what our agenda will be, lets agree on two basic points. We need dramatic change, and we need it now. Is anyone doing this? Are there groups that we can point to as models? Yes, to a degree, in isolated pockets. In May 2007, for example, an F5 tornado tore through Greensburg, Kansas, wiping the town o the face of the earth. Instead of returning to business as usual, the town voted to use the opportunity of rebuilding to make Greensburg a model of sustainable living. And, as American towns go, it is indeed a model. I urge readers to look at Greensburgs website to see what a town with vision can do. HEAL Utah, on whose board I sit, recently hosted Greensburgs mayor, Bob Dixson, and we have put videos of that event on our YouTube website.64 eyre inspiring.

For the most part, though, America is trapped in denial. Recent polls have found that about half of the populace does not believe that climate change is real, and only about a third believe that it is caused by human activity. Fewer still understand that this is in fact the biggest challenge humans have ever faced, and that it is the moral imperative of all time. Now more than ever in human history, we need unity in common purpose. We need the sort of unity that brought Americans and Americans and their allies together during World War II. Our political system today, however, is not about unity. It is more partisan than ever. Its driven not by notions of public service but by special interest, corporate bribery, and demagoguery. Its heroes are gures like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Glenn Beck. Americans wanting change, if not necessarily action on climate change, hoped to see a radical about face with Barack Obama. But so far, even with a Democratic Congress, he has failed to deliver on the issue of climate change, and appears to be hopelessly bogged down in a stalemate of parties that he seems unable to break. In the fullness of time, when the American people nally wake up to their plight as agents and victims of climate change, the politicians will presumably snap out of their ideological funk. But their awakening will be too late for our planet.

Fall Party Mayor Dixson IV.m4v, Fall Party Mayor Dixson II.m4v, Fall Party 2009 Mayor Dixson III.m4v, Fall Party 2009 Dixson I.m4v.

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e private sector too will eventually adapt, but not fast enough to avoid passing the tipping points. Right now, the market cannot even begin to adapt because the true cost of the way we live is invisible to the market. At the moment, our economic system externalizes, that is hides, true costs, and so there isnt an economic imperative powerful enough to cause deep, structural change of the sort we need. We have, for example, no carbon tax that reects the cost of the CO2 we emit, the cost that we will pay either in reengineering our society to prevent climate change or in dealing with the consequences of our failure to reengineer society. Without a signicant carbon tax, there is no hope of large-scale shifts in the American economy. For example, when gas prices reached an unprecedented $5 a gallon, Americans began to change their driving habits, but only modestly. reason is that gas was not nearly expensive enough, and it didnt remain expensive. Even with a carbon tax, however, change will probably not come swiftly enough to prevent us from passing the tipping points from which there is no return to life as we know it. If, for example, an improbable carbon tax were passed today that doubled the price of electricity in America, it seems likely that we would only modify our behavior to the degree that we did when gas prices doubled, which is to say, not nearly enough. Conservation, at least as we know it now, is simply not enough. In fact, conservation as we know it is actually counterproductive. In the fall of 2009, Utah climate scientist Tim Garrett published an article in the journal Climatic Change showing that conserving energy promotes economic growth, which leads to the consumption of more energy and therefore the production of more greenhouse gases.65 Garretts paradoxical conclusion is that conserving energy promotes climate change. Talk about cognitive dissonance! Cognitive dissonance is good, though, if it forces us to think more clearly. Garretts article has certainly given me food for thought. My reaction to Garrett, after due reection, is threefold. First, Garrett puts a scientic face on a fact that conservationists have known for a long time: we cant conserve our way out of climate change. We need far more radical transformation. e

Are ere Basic Physical Constraints on Future Anthropogenic Emissions of Carbon Dioxide? Climatic Change 21 November 2009, available online at www.springerlink.com/content/9476j57g1t07vhn2/fulltext.pdf.

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Second, the deeper question is whether energy conservation, though clearly not enough, is nonetheless worthwhile, even essential. Before examining that issue however, I rst of all want to address those on the political Right who deny that climate change is real or human-caused and who see in Tim Garretts work a scientic justication for their refusal to embrace energy conservation and alternative energy. Far from providing ammunition for this attitude, Garretts message is that conservation is good for the economy. Its the energy equivalent of increased worker productivity. If you can produce more with less or even the same with less, you increase the eciency of your business, creating a greater margin for prot. So, as billionaire George Soros has been saying for years, truly clean forms of energy such as wind, solar, and geothermal could be the motor of the worlds economy. Republicans, therefore, of all people, should embrace clean energy and energy eciency as tools to promote growth, which is after all their highest good. What Garrett has given us is a gift like the gifts the Greek gods were accused of giving, a gift such as Pandora, that comes with a strong consumer warning. Tims gift is a Zen slap in the face, a wake up call to reality. And, reality has a way of being uncomfortable. For far too long, environmental organizations like the Sierra Club have been behaving like good corporate citizens and urging eminently reasonable, responsible, and, as it turns out, remunerative actions like conservation in the form of replacing lightbulbs, caulking windows, and buying ecient appliances. But that approach, as Garrett observes, while it salves our conscience and makes us more ecient has done nothing to stop our progression toward climate catastrophe. At some level, we knew all of this before Tim Garrett had the temerity to point it out. For the last decade at least, environmentalists have seen that the incremental, evolutionary, no- or low-impact measures deemed to be reasonable arent working. Weve seen this, but denied the implications. Weve also been living in denial about the fact that as long as economies and populations continue to grow, anything other than the total and immediate replacement of fossil-fuel-based power with truly clean alternatives is as good as nothing. e evidence of our denial is greenwash, or should I say e evidence hogwash, such as Barack Obamas voluntary 17% reductions over 2005 levels by 2020.

of our denial is climate stalemate of the sort that made the Copenhagen climate talks an utter failure.
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Finally, then, and here I part company with Garrett: we need a new vocabulary and a new ethic. What weve been engaged in isnt so much conserving as economizing half measures concerned rst and foremost with the bottom line. For example, the EPA, with the full blessing of environmental groups, has encouraged the creation of the Energy Star brand of appliances and even homes that are more energy ecient. e pitch of the EPA is to the budget-conscious consumer in all of us. We should caulk windows and add insulation so as to reduce heat loss and save money. We should turn down the temperature on our thermostats and water heaters so as to reduce oil and natural gas consumption and save money. We should install Energy Star appliances to reduce power use and save money, and so on. ese are all reasonable, cost-wise things to do. And they do save energy, and therefore reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But for all that, this isnt real conservation. ese eorts reduce the harm the we cause by our lifestyle but they do not eliminate it. Real conservation is about eliminating the harm. If your lifestyle is unsustainable because it consumes more resources than the environment can handle, slowing the rate of consumption will not prevent you from ultimately crashing and burning. Youll just do so a little later than you might have otherwise. True conservation is about preventing the crash and burn altogether. Here is the reality of our lifestyle in America. We consume four to ve earths worth of resources. As a model for the world, this clearly is not a lifestyle the world can live with, yet at the moment this is the lifestyle the world is emulating. China wants the American dream, and so do India, Africa, and Latin America. Long before they get there, the biosphere is going to collapse. Clearly, even if Americans conserved 25 to 50% across the board relative to present levels, and were nowhere near that kind of number despite the EPA and the Sierra Club, it would not be enough. Our reasonable, piecewise, economizing approach will not work in the long run, and it cannot therefore be regarded as true conservation, which presupposes that youre doing things in such a way that you at a minimum maintain the present biological status quo. So, what would a truly conservative approach to energy use look like? Well, instead of looking for ways to reduce the electricity required for air conditioning, we would eliminate the need for it altogether. And this is absolutely possible today.
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rough intelligent design that incorporates passive

solar ideas and good engineering, it is possible to build homes that do not require any air conditioning even in hot climates. In fact, this has been possible for a long time. I have been in old pioneer adobe homes here in Utah that are comfortable in midsummer without the use of any hightech engineering. heating. e same kind of radical, but often technologically simple solution is available for ere are towns in Germany today where people live in homes that require no heating or air

conditioning at all.66 In winter, they retain latent heat that is generated by household appliances, computers, TVs, showers, baths, and the bodies of the occupants. In really frigid areas where latent heating cannot deliver enough warmth, geothermal heat pumps could be used. ese can both heat and air condition homes and provide hot water using a tiny fraction of the electricity required for conventional systems, and the small amount of electricity needed could be provided by a limited solar panel array that would not add prohibitive costs to home construction. ese are radical and yet eminently doable changes that would be part of a truly conservative lifestyle. Such changes would bring about dramatic greenhouse gas reductions that mere economizing has not. ere is, in other words, a way out of Tim Garretts paradox of conservation. e solution to the is true

paradox is to realize that what Garrett regards as conservation isnt conservation at all but false economy, and that there is a form of conservation capable of achieving radical results. conservation also wont single-handedly get us out of climate catastrophe, but it could get us well on the way, and it could do so quickly. If, for example, the federal government or state and city governments were to pass zero-energy requirements for heating and air conditioning on all new homes, we would see instantaneous and signicant reductions in energy use. If governments mandated zero-energy retrots whenever existing homes are sold, we would get an even bigger bump. Nonetheless, Americans especially have turned their back on such alternatives, sometimes out of ignorance, sometimes out of greed and short-sighted economy, sometimes out of sheer bloody mindedness. I recall a recent letter to the editor of the Salt Lake Tribune, written by a man who was outraged by the worlds Lights Out initiative, in which people were asked voluntarily to turn o their lights for one evening. Even the LDS Church complied. But the writer of the letter, who thinks
No Furnaces but Heat Aplenty in Passive Houses. New York Times, 12/26/2008, available online at http:// www.nytimes.com/2008/12/27/world/europe/27house.html?_r=1.

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that climate change is a hoax, turned on every light in his home in protest.

e great tragedy of our

time is that self-serving Republicans have politicized the issue of climate change and whipped up public frenzy to a point that people, like the writer of that letter, simply cannot see what is staring them in the face. Real change on the climate front, like real change on so many other fronts, is stalled by a morally bankrupt political system whose leaders cannot rise above their own self-interest and who are bound by their own self-imposed ideological straightjackets. So, how do Americans break this impasse and start moving forward? How do we turn away from disaster?

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VHU(/09 'W@*(S ).,: ;.,' ;.,' Q.,4'5S09(9 'AO0$#4F, Day by day my ears invent the steps of a messenger of good tidings. Yehuda Amichai67 As I see things, one group, and perhaps the only group, capable of breaking this impasse and forcing radical change is our churches. Americas churches are a solution in several ways. First, action by churches to meet their own climate D-day would in itself be a real step forward. e LDS Church, for example, is one of the largest builders and furnishers of buildings in the United States outside the federal government. It could single-handedly change the economics of solar power and geothermal heating and air-conditioning systems in the U.S. e LDS Church is also one of the countrys largest is is a church with the potential to food producers. It is the countrys largest producer of nuts, and it is one of the largest ranching operations, with 500,000 acres of ranch land in Florida alone. make and to change markets. is is a church with the potential to bring new, clean energy

businesses to life. And there are other churches with this kind of scale, who acting singly, but hopefully together, could transform the political and business response to climate change. Our churches can be catalysts of change, agents that cause other agents to undergo radical transformation. For a conservative organization like the LDS Church to make a commitment to energy independence within ten years, which is something I proposed to then counselor omas S. Monson back in early 2007 (Ive since cut the suggested time period to ve years in a long proposal that I sent President Monson in Jan. 2010), would send a shock wave through the Republican Party, which has chosen, rather strangely given the potential that clean energy has to revitalize the U.S economy, to align itself with dirty and dead-end industries such as coal and oil. Todays Republicans have turned their back on their own tradition of conservation and environmental responsibility, as
From his Jerusalem 1967. Hebrew original and English translation in Poems of Jerusalem and Love Poems. Riverdaleon-Hudson, NY: Sheep Meadow Press, 1992, 46. Trans. mine.

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represented by gures such as Teddy Roosevelt, who created the National Forest Service as we know it, and Richard Nixon, who created the EPA and who approved an important extension to the Clean Air Act (1970) and the Federal Water Pollution Control Amendments (1972). As a catalyst, the Church could help to bring the Republican Party to a realization of its public responsibility. And, last but not least, speaking of Teddy Roosevelt, churches can be the bully pulpit that convinces the mass of ordinary Americans to change their personal lives. I dont think that I exaggerate when I say that if the LDS Church, for example, were to go green tonight, we would see a dierent set of Utah leaders in Washington tomorrow. And, we would nd a radically dierent approach to climate change here in the West. ere is indeed much that a church like this could do to change the world, and to be that Zion on the hill, that city of light that a world in darkness needs. What we need today from our churches is the message of a radically dierent way of living, a new kingdom based on notions of true sustainability. Practically speaking, the message we need to hear from our churches is that standing between us and everything we want for ourselves and our children is the mortal sin of climate change, from which we will either turn away now or perish. And what we need to see from our churches is action to back up their words. e good news about climate change is that it is, at the moment at least, a solvable problem. We have the knowledge and the technology and the money to x this problem now. All we need is will and imagination. In view of the moral bankruptcy of our political process and of corporate America, I can think of no more critical mobilizer of public will and no better seed communities for imaginative role modeling than our churches. But, while I hope to see every church engaged in an all-hands-on-deck eort, there is one in particular that I speak to here. Of the many religious communities that I could point to with some hope, none is more pre-adapted, in theory anyway, to the present crisis than the Mormons, a people who espouse the ideal of becoming one in heart and mind and who have already bound themselves under sacred covenant to create a place in the here and now t for God to inhabit. If there is any

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church whose active involvement is needed now to change the world, it is ours. see the gospel of Zion in action.

e world needs to

And so does the Church, for while the Church cherishes the Zion ideal in theory it does not do so in practice. One has only to look at the Salt Lake Valley during a winter inversion, or drive down State Street any day of the year, or look through the barriers of gated communities of millionaire Saints to see this. Now, you may say that winter inversions are a force of nature beyond our control. But it is not the inversions that create air pollution. We do, and therefore we can solve this problem if we choose to. Doing so will not be easy. It will mean, for example, dramatically reducing our dependence on automobiles in the Salt Lake valley. at is a big but not insuperable challenge. It could be done by greatly expanding our present public transportation system. It could be done through negative economic incentives such as signicantly increasing the gasoline tax and using the proceeds to fund clean transportation initiatives. It could be done by making public transportation free. All of this can be done, but, as with climate change, which is Salt Lakes air pollution problem on a global scale, there is little political will to do it. e bottom line is that Mormons in Salt Lake breathe terribly polluted air because they choose to do so, in part through action and in part through inaction. And the Church is as guilty as anyone in allowing this state of aairs to continue. Indeed, because the Church is in a unique position to inuence public opinion and legislative action, it is more guilty than most. Where much is given, much is expected. e Church would perhaps answer that this is a political problem, and as such not a proper domain on which to speak or act. But this excuse does not convince. Its true that living sustainably has become a politicized issue. But that is not the same thing as a political issue. ere is no partisan necessity for Republicans and Democrats to disagree about cleaning up our air. Everyone needs this, as they need food and shelter. As necessities of ordinary life, indeed as the foundation of life itself, clean air, clean water, and healthy food are not political issues. None of our environmental problems are in fact political, although they are politicized. In any event, however, the mandate of the Church is to create a place in the here and now that is t for God to inhabit, regardless of political complications. And Salt Lake City today is far from Zion. Are we not ashamed of our dirty air when
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we bring visitors here? And if were ashamed of this lth before mere tourists, should we not be a hundred times more stricken as we present this valley to God for his approval? By choosing not to get involved, the Church abnegates its moral responsibility to be a good shepherd not only for a spiritual ock but for esh and blood mortals who will breathe and be killed by the dirty air the Church chooses not to speak about and act upon. According to the Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment, a thousand people along the Wasatch Front die prematurely each year as a result of the dirty air we breathe.68 eir deaths will of course not be attributed to air pollution. e cause of death will be pneumonia, asthma, or heart attack. And in this way, even our death is treated as an externalized cost, the ultimate expression of the degree to which our society turns life into money. You can have anything in this world for money, including a free conscience. Sadly, the list of ways in which the Church is failing in its pastoral responsibility is long. Ill give just one more example. In December 2009, my father, Ed Firmge, Sr., sent a letter to the First Presidency requesting that they take a strong stance against the storage of depleted uranium in Utah. many reasons why the Church should do this. First, there is the fact that without such action Utah will in all likelihood become the dumping ground of choice for all of Americas depleted uranium, 700,000 tons of which are waiting a for a disposal site as I write this. anks to Energy Solutions and inaction across the board in Utah, Utah is now the dump for 99% of Americas low-level nuclear waste. Energy Solutions has recently begun importing depleted uranium in quantity, and few in Utah at present, beyond a few activists such as my friends at HEAL, are protesting. becomes more radioactive over time. en theres the fact that, again unlike low-level waste, depleted uranium will remain radioactive for millions of years.

ere are

ere is the fact that depleted uranium, unlike low-level waste,

eres the fact that the place where depleted uranium will be stored, Energy

UPHE has compiled a sobering list of studies that demonstrate the many, often deadly, eects associated with dirty air: http://uphe.org/library.php. Perhaps the most sobering revelation of these studies is that some of the eects are genetic. We are raising a generation of children who will pass on the consequences of our neglect of their health to every subsequent generation. e fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the childrens teeth stand on edge. Firmage, Light in Darkness, 52 of 90

Solutions Clive facility in Utahs West Desert, lies at the bottom of a lakebed that has been lled with water many times in the last hundred thousand years and that is likely to be lled again, climate change notwithstanding, at some point in the next few tens of thousands of years. As a result, what is misleadingly billed as an isolated, arid, and geologically safe site, will be destroyed by wave action, inundated, and dispersed through the length and breadth of the next Lake Bonneville and beyond. Lake Bonneville came to an end 14,500 years ago when over three hundred feet of it broke through Red Rock Pass near the Utah-Idaho border sending the largest ood in North American history tearing through the Snake River plain to the Pacic Ocean. Red Rock Pass remains a possible outlet for future Lake Bonnevilles. e deadly legacy of Energy Solutions and of popular LDS greed (Energy Solutions has bought favor from about three quarters of the Utah legislature) and ocial LDS inaction could therefore nd itself spread over not just the entirety of western Utah but also southern Idaho, and the Columbia River basin. e greatest eect, however, will certainly be the blighting of the eastern half of the Great Basin, Brigham Youngs kingdom. And we are not talking about destroying a marginal salt water ecosystem. Lake Bonneville was a fresh water lake, and its successor will also likely be a fresh water lake, which could be the basis for a thriving desert society in the Great Basin, but not if it is lled with radioactive waste. Ed Sr. had good reason to hope that the Church would be willing to act on this threat to the wellbeing of our regions future inhabitants. It was he, after all, who convinced the Church years ago to speak up against the MX missile system proposed for this same area.69 And it was this statement against the MX missile system that provided the precedent and the conceptual framework for the Churchs 2006 statement against the storage of high-level nuclear waste in the West Desert. e First Presidencys response to dads request this time how much things have changed in 30 years was that the Church cannot act on every such issue and that its principle mission is to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ. is is certainly among the oddest statements Ive ever heard from the Church, because it juxtaposes preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ to stewardship of the earth and care for the physical as well as spiritual well-being of its inhabitants. To my way of thinking, these
Edwin B. Firmage, MX: Democracy, Religion, and the Rule of Law My Journey. Utah Law Review 2004: 1, 13-56.

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things are inseparable. How can the gospel of Jesus Christ be separated from anything that is good, much less anything that is essential to the well-being of Gods children? Is not our physical health an essential part of the life God intends for us? Is not insuring our physical health what the Word of Wisdom is all about, this revelation which more than any other Mormons point to as evidence of Joseph Smiths inspiration? And as for the notion that the Church has other priorities, I would assume that if the Church can nd time for its crusade to protect Utahns from booze, it might also nd some time to speak about the dangers of nuclear waste, air pollution, and mercury in our water and food. While preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Church somehow nds time and means to rebuild downtown Salt Lake City to the tune of ve years of concentrated work and a price tag of $1 billion or more. So, youd think that the Church could take a few minutes to write a statement about cherishing the earth rather than treating it as a waste dump. e $1 billion that the Church will spend on downtown Salt Lake City will be long forgotten and unimportant a thousand years from now. But the depleted uranium (and mercury and CO2) that the Church, by its deliberate inaction, allows to pollute our earth, will still be here. the life of our descendants. By refusing to tackle these temporal problems head on, the Church eectively tells God that its up to him to solve the problems that we have created. is is the height of arrogance. It is also fraught with danger, for when has God ever been willing to let us o the hook because the problems we have created are big and hairy? Hasnt it rather been his modus operandi to let us perish when things reach such a point? Is that not the lesson of Genesis and of the Prophets? e lesson of Scripture is that being Gods chosen people means that you have a heavier burden of responsibility. Yours must always be the high road, the hard road. And if you are not cut out for such hard work, God will nd someone else who is. I would therefore say to Church leadership, look around you and identify the seemingly intractable problems that politicians shy away from and that our political process seems unable to handle. ose are your problems. If our economic system, for example, cant eliminate poverty, then that is your problem. If the political process cant deal with climate change, then that is your problem, and you need to solve it. In Gods scheme of things, there is no such thing as a political problem. ere are only problems, and they are all moral. roughout their millennial presence, they will threaten

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e Church may reply, Well, Brother Firmage, by that logic the Church should be involved in almost everything. My reply is, Absolutely. at is what building a Zion society is all about. As in biblical times and Brighams day, there can be no ultimate distinction between sacred or religious space and secular space. Its all sacred. Its all important. I say this knowing that there will be occasions when a publicly engaged Church will do or say things that oend me. So be it. Unlike my liberal friends who would just as soon see the Church shrink into self-imposed exile in its own land, I would welcome a vigorous, vocal, and bold ocial Mormon presence in Utahs day to day life, as was the case in Brigham Youngs day. e retreat of the Church into its own self-imposed insignicance on most temporal issues is a cause for sorrow, not rejoicing. All I would ask of a socially reengaged Church is that it act prophetically. Brethren, let your tradition and your Scripture dictate your course of action. If you do that, I have condence that you will be more right than wrong in what you do. In speaking and acting prophetically on issues of the day, the Church will in fact be ceasing to play political games. At present, the Church is perceived accurately, I believe as an extension of Right Wing American politics. members to vote their conscience. e Church ocially denies the connection, and encourages en it turns around and installs the former head of the e Church is also big

Republican party in Utah as editor of the Church-owned Deseret News. One could cite a hundred other examples of actions that belie the Churchs professed political neutrality. business. As my mission president once remarked to me about some issue we had been discussing, Its just business, Elder Firmage, and the Church is big business. To be a big business in America today is by denition to be political. political issues is patent nonsense. If Church leadership truly wants to avoid being political, then it needs to start being prophetic. e biblical prophet, as dened by the example of Hosea, Amos, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Jesus, is not a fortune teller but a speaker of the truth, the truth of the responsibility of leaders to principle, of people to principle, and of leaders to people. e biblical prophets spoke truth to power and truth to the people, without consideration of the consequences, without worrying whether they were being
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e Churchs statement, therefore, that it doesnt get involved in

political or politic. Not surprisingly, because they told the truth, the prophets to a man were always in conict with the political and economic establishment.70 Abraham Heschel writes of them that they are some of the most disturbing people who have ever lived.71 A full discussion of ways in which the prophets were disturbing would be beyond the scope of this article. But take as an example the divine injunction to Hosea rst to marry a prostitute and have children with her (Hos. 1:2) and then to marry an adulteress (3:1), to symbolize Israels indelity to her covenant with God. Or take the injunction to Ezekiel to lie on his side in the street for 390 days and make a meager meal of water and bread baked with human feces to illustrate the fate that awaits the people (Ezek. 4:9-15). Ezekiel himself protests at the oensiveness of this, so God relents and lets him use cow dung instead. ese men spoke uncomfortable truths and illustrated them in ways that ese men, who dene what it means to be a people then as now would have found deeply oensive.

prophet, would have laughed at the notion that political issues were o the table. Samuel, for example, attacked the notion of kingship, which was the basis of government in most of the ancient world (1 Sam. 8:11-18). at may not sound radical to us descendants of George Washington and omas Jeerson, but it was to many in the ancient world. In most places, such talk would have ended your life on the spot. It would be the equivalent of President Monson attacking the notion of laissez-faire economics at a Republican convention in Utah, something, by the way, that Id love to see him do.
is is a challenging concept for Latter-day Saints because in the LDS tradition the prophet is the establishment. Prophet is just another way of saying corporate president, head of the church. In biblical Israel, however, the prophet was not the head of the church but the political outsider. e ecclesiastical establishment was led by priests, and priesthood was passed down exclusively within the families of the priests and the Levites. Accordingly, prophets did not speak by virtue of any priesthood or ecclesiastical authority, for they had none (except in the accidental and exceptional case, such as Ezekiel, in which the prophet also happened to be a priest). Speaking for God and speaking for the corporate church were therefore two dierent things. e prophets only authority was moral. Now, ideally, of course, the priestly establishment would have taught and embodied the principles of the Torah. Ideally, there would have been no need for prophets (cf. Num. 11:29, would that all of the Lords people were prophets), for God has already told his people what they need to hear. In the view of the prophets, however, Israels leadership, religious and civil, did not live up to its scriptural calling. ereon hangs the tale of conict between the establishment and the independent idealists whose only authority was their claim to have been appointed personal messengers of God. eir message was a call for national repentance, a call for leaders and people to live their principles. e prophets of the LDS Church are thus in the impossible position of having to be their own worst critics. To be a prophet, you have to stop thinking like an ecclesiastic and a CEO.
70 71

Op. cit., I:xi.

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But Samuels political radicalism does not end with his attack on kingship. If we substitute the word president or executive or real estate developer for king, we begin to see just how radical he was, for the abuses he cites were not and are not unique to kings. Samuel could just as well be speaking of any powerful, centralized government or organization or successful millionaire General Authority. His condemnation of economic exploitation would certainly apply to todays high-handed American corporations that treat their employees like serfs. Employees at Walmart, for example, had to sue the company for the right to go to the bathroom!72 ey had to ght to get even modest health insurance. And, like generations of American workers before them, they have had to overcome corporate bullying to form unions. I have no doubt about what Samuel or Hosea or Jeremiah would say to the CEO and shareholders of Walmart. In 1965, American CEOs earned 24 times the salary of the average employee. In 2005, that ratio was 262. At its peak, before 9/11 and the bursting of the mortgage bubble, the ratio was as high as 300.73 I have no doubt what Amos would say to the heads of the Fortune 50. But when was the last time you heard a General Conference sermon about the evils of Walmart or Enron or AIG or Bank of America or GM? When did you last hear a modern LDS prophet attack the Republican Party for its opposition to an increase in the minimum wage? I could go on at great length, but my basic point is clear: to live in todays society and refuse to become involved in the messy issues of daily life is in and of itself a political decision of the worst kind. And it is not the sort of decision that the biblical prophets would have approved of. In disclaiming the world of political issues, most of which in fact have nothing to do with politics, the Church winks at abuses of power that have always been the primary focus of prophetic action. How dare we, then, preach the value of justice while we ignore the injustice that will be visited upon the worlds poor by climate change. How dare we talk about love while our way of life guarantees that hundreds of millions will perish. e God who spoke through Hosea said, I have hewn them in e words of our pieces by the prophets; I have slain them by the words of my mouth (Hos. 6:5).

See the scathing expos of Walmart and other American companies that use minimum wage labor in Barbara Ehrenreichs Nickel and Dimed. New York: Henry Holt, 2001.

CEO-to-Worker Pay Imbalance Grows, Economic Policy Institute, at http://www.epi.org/content.cfm/ webfeatures_snapshots_20060621, visited 12/31/09.

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present prophets wouldnt cut through butter much less bone or sinew. todays LDS prophets is that theyre not disturbing.

e disturbing thing about

To preach a prophetic gospel much less a gospel of Jesus Christ, the champion of the poor, without social and economic, and, yes, political consequences is a contradiction in terms. And, if the prophets of the Bible are to be believed, it is an oense against God. Isnt this the plain meaning of the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:29-37)? Who are the real villains of this story? priest and the Levite, the General Authorities of their day. Who is the hero? e e outcast Samaritan,

the man without a temple recommend. And what is the fault of the priest and the Levite? It isnt something that they did. It isnt even something that they thought. It is something they didnt do, and didnt even think to do. e priest and the Levite are models of orthodox belief and conventional ey think the ey pay their tithing. ese ey also do the right things, at least as prescribed in rectitude, models, in other words, of what the Church today would call values. right thoughts and believe the right beliefs. Scripture and tradition. ey observe the Sabbath, and do their temple work.

In short, these are not bad men pretending to be good. By ordinary standards, they are good. todays church would be giving out the recommends. But in Jesuss story, theyre the bad boys

men would have had no problem getting a temple recommend. Indeed, they are the ones who in nonetheless. Of course, none of this is said in so many words. But what sense would the story have if in fact the priest and the Levite were bad men or obvious hypocrites? So what if a jerk walks past an injured man? Youd expect that of a jerk. You wouldnt expect it of a General Authority. wanted. If all you can muster is conventional goodness, youre not part of this kingdom. In Jesuss day, as in ours, righteousness was measured in terms of orthodoxy and religious observance. But in Jesuss teaching, righteousness has little to do with either. While Jesus does not reject orthodoxy or customary observance, his message is that these are not enough. Never once does Jesus tell a parable about the importance of proper belief. He seems similarly uninterested in customary forms of ritual and worship. He does show interest in basic morality. But this is typically just a starting point for uncovering a deeper kind of morality that his hearers are ignoring, something that
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at is Jesuss

point. In Jesuss kingdom, goodness that ends at the boundary of the conventional is not whats

goes beyond the conventional. And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him...if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments... e young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions (Matt. 19: 16-22). If Jesus were speaking to us today, I suspect he would want to know what the Church is not doing. Or, to put it positively, what the Church is doing that goes beyond the ordinary. If other good Christians are doing X, what more than X is the LDS Church doing? And God forbid that the Church should have to confess that it isnt even managing X. Like the Jewish church of Jesuss day, ours is zealous in belief and zealous in conventional observance. It spends millions, for example, sending its young men and young women and old men and old women into the world to preach the gospel. e Church spends vast amounts of time and money trying to get people to believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and that he restored the gospel of Jesus Christ in these latter days. It works hard to get people to believe that the Book of Mormon is Scripture. It cares a great deal that people recognize todays successors of Joseph Smith as prophets, seers, and revelators. is preaching and believing is what todays LDS prophets apparently at is all ne and good. But to what end is all of this earnest regard as the purpose of the Church.

believing and preaching? If it doesnt result in a dramatically dierent way of living, who cares what people believe? In the kingdom of brick and mortar that the prophets preached and that was our ancestors version of Mormonism, what mattered was less what you believed than what you did and what you and others who shared your faith did together. What mattered was what happened after the missionizing was done and people gathered to Zion. e point was ultimately not to tell other e point was to build Zion. people about the gospel, but to show it to them by living it.

And how do todays ordinary Mormons, the worlds most industrious evangelizers, live? Are we as a people signicantly better or indeed any better than the rest of America? Do we I have to chuckle as I write this break the bounds of the conventional? Does Salt Lake City, Utah, distinguish itself
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when compared with Portland, Oregon, or Madison, Wisconsin, or Boulder, Colorado, or any other pleasant, well-run city in America? If 50% of Salt Lake City and 60% of Utah is LDS, and if Latterday Saints have, as we say, a saving truth, where is the living manifestation of this in Salt Lake City today? Are we a living example of Zion? To this observer, at least, members of the Church today, from top to bottom, talk like saints but live like Americans like typical thoughtless, careless, selfabsorbed Americans, who have done more than any other people to bring the world to the brink of catastrophe. We profess a belief in the kingdom of God, but, apart from missionizing, have done nothing since the passing of the generation of rst converts to make this kingdom a reality. For those Saints, there was no dichotomy between preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ and living it politically, economically, and socially. For Brigham Young and his generation, there was no such thing as a political issue that the Church could not and should not tackle. Economics was not o-limits as a province of Church action. Social reform was not taboo. Indeed, radical economics and social change were an essential part of Brighams gospel. For Brigham, everything had spiritual meaning, whether you were talking about getting your endowments, darning your socks, or buying supplies from the Church-owned co-op. Nor would Brigham have thought it an untouchable political issue to attack government and local business for wanting to turn his Great Basin kingdom or the earth into a dumping ground. Everything that happened in the community of the Saints was subject matter t for the Church to speak and act upon. Brigham too believed that he lived in the last days, and this belief was cause for urgency, not just to preach the gospel, as the Church does today, but to build a brick and mortar kingdom that would last a thousand years. Is there anything in contemporary Mormon society, except the temples that Brigham built, that is likely to last a thousand years? At the rate were destroying things, we wont last a century. Todays Mormon reality is that as a people were just average, unforgivably average, if you believe that of those to whom much is given, much is expected. is is the inconvenient truth of contemporary Mormonism. As a commercial institution, the Church has unquestionably succeeded. It belongs, for example, by many estimates, to the Fortune 250. Not bad for an organization that was on the brink of collapse in 1890. But the Church is not called to be a commercial success; it is called to be a model of societal transformation. As a force for such transformation, even on the scale of Salt Lake
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City much less the world, the Church has unquestionably failed. And, it has failed in spite of massive missionary work. Why? Because when the missionizing is over, people are still untransformed. eir conversion is a kind of head game only. Once I was a Democrat, now Im a Republican. Once I was Catholic, now Im a Mormon. What passes for conversion today is an ideological shell game, because it is principally about changing ones beliefs. Until the conversion of the head becomes something deeper, something that gets people out of their heads and out into the world, the Church is kicking against the pricks. e tragedy of contemporary Mormonism, and the reason I think that it will ultimately fail unless there is a course correction, is that the Church has chosen to withdraw into disembodied belief, belief without social consequences, except in the bedroom. To say that the Churchs role ends at the preaching of values is the end of Mormon uniqueness. As I noted at the beginning, what made early Mormons distinctive was our social gospel, the belief that we are called not only to live pious lives but to build a new world order. For our ancestors, this was not just ideology, but a battle plan for constant, concrete, world-shattering action. It was that vision and that kind of action that brought early Mormons into conict with their neighbors in Kirtland, in Independence, in Nauvoo, and in Salt Lake City. at vision and that willingness to be dierent has all but disappeared as Mormons have assimilated into mainstream American society and bought into the devilish notion that a Churchs proper role is limited to advice on morality. Of all of Mormonisms so-called political issues, the ones todays ideologically obsessed and sociologically inert Church seeks to avoid, none cries out for action like climate change. In its reluctance to become engaged and in its silence on this issue, the Church shows how far it has come, or, more accurately, regressed, from the brick and mortar gospel of its rst generation. e Churchs inertia in responding to climate change is a tragedy, not only because of the unimaginable human suering that will result but also because a bold, vigorous response to climate change could be such a force for positive, spiritual transformation within the Church. For Americans, who generally live wildly beyond their means, the social revolution that will be required to prevent climate change and other ecological disasters that are in the ong will be the greatest shock we have ever experienced.
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But Mormons have at least the cultural memory of a radically dierent way of life, the sort of life that preventing climate change must entail. If any group of people in America can adapt to this way of life, it is the Mormons. If we will embrace this opportunity, we will nd that the exigency of climate change is the greatest blessing in our history, for in our return to rst principles lies the key to the future success of the Church. e key to success as a transformed and transformative organization is precisely that old-fashioned Zion ideal that our ancestors lived and died for and that Saints in the interim have forgotten about in their pursuit of comfortable American mediocrity. e LDS Church, as another moralistic, conservative, evangelical religion, much less as a successful business, has nothing to oer the world. As crass as this sounds in the context of speaking about Zion, lets look at the issue from the point of view of a marketing plan. e Churchs success will be limited by the degree to which it looks and e more it does so, the lower, ironically, its ere is a superabundance of groups that ere are groups that have e answer is obvious: feels like the other religious products on the market. choose from, the Church must dene for itself a niche. preach family values. lesbians.

appeal. For the Church to succeed in a religious marketplace where people have many options to ere are plenty of groups that are only too happy to persecute gays and

ere are groups that teach sexual abstinence before marriage.

better and more comprehensive dietary restrictions. Now, the Church can preach and practice all of this, if it wants to, but wherein will it dierentiate itself from the competition? in its unique theology of Zion. If the Church will live that, it will become what people wanting the truly good life will seek out. It will in fact and not just in word be the ensign on the hill, the beacon in the darkness. And it will succeed. Here, then, is the great paradox for Latter-day Saints. We can continue with our headlong assimilation into the American religious mainstream and fail, or we can buck the system and succeed. We can continue to eliminate every vestige of the church of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, from polygamy to communitarianism to bold ideas about the nature of man and God, or we can embrace the past that weve been eeing since 1890 in our desperate attempt to convince Americans that were just like they are. It so happens, however, that those long-discarded and now denigrated ideas like
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communitarianism are in fact exactly what the world needs. Our poster boys, Mitt Romney and Glenn Beck, cant say enough bad things about the redistribution of wealth, but that is exactly what Brigham Young preached as an essential foundation of a Zion society. Until and unless we are willing to embrace that inconvenient truth and the other radical social inconveniences of our particular gospel, we have nothing to oer the world. So, to summarize thus far, in climate change, the Church faces a seemingly intractable problem that the political and business world cannot or will not tackle. Its a problem with both temporal and spiritual dimensions. Its a problem that has Apocalypse written all over it. tailor-made for prophets to handle. us, I come to this conclusion: it is in how the Church responds to climate change that the future of the Church will be determined. I dont mean simply that the Church, like every other institution, is threatened by climate change. I mean that the present crisis is the ultimate turning point for the Church, the moment in which it will at last start to live up to its theology or shrink into irrelevancy. As the reality of climate change begins to dawn on an unprepared and sleepy America, the Right, which has invested its entire energy in opposing eorts to prevent climate change, will lose its nal vestige of relevance. Churches, which by their action or inaction have allowed the agenda of the Right to prevent needed social change, will be caught with their pants down, a particularly unattering pose for those who claim to be seers. roots as the kingdom of faith in radical action. According to LDS theology, we live in the Dispensation of the Fullness of Times, when all of Gods purposes for earth and her inhabitants come to fruition. Chief among these, as far as Latter-day Saints are concerned, is the divine injunction to build Gods kingdom here and now. is is not a kingdom of words and ideas and moral concepts alone but a esh-and-blood kingdom of transformed people living their principles. And until such a society exists, until we build it, the heavenly kingdom of God cannot return to earth. e choice before the Church now could not be clearer. It can continue on its present course as the kingdom of devout inertia or it can return to its is looks like a job

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"And righteousness will I send down out of heaven...and righteousness...will I cause to sweep the earth...to gather out mine elect...unto a...Holy City...and it shall be called Zion... "And the Lord said unto Enoch: en shalt thou and all thy city meet them there...and we will fall upon their necks, and they shall fall upon our necks, and we will kiss each other; "And there shall be mine abode..." (Moses 7:62-64)

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You seduced me, Yahweh! Im seduced. You ravished me, and had your way. All day long, they laugh at me, all of them mock me, for when I speak, I cry Violence, and Ruin when I call out. So I said, I wont mention Him, I wont speak in His name again. But there was an inferno inside me. I grew weary and couldnt hold it in. Jeremiah 20:7-974 Batter my heart, three-persond God; for you As yet but knock ; breathe, shine, and seek to mend; at I may rise, and stand, oerthrow me, and bend Your force, to break, blow, burn, and make me new. I, like an usurpd town, to another due, Labour to admit you, but O, to no end. Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend, But is captived, and proves weak or untrue. Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain, But am betrothd unto your enemy; Divorce me, untie, or break that knot again, Take me to you, imprison me, for I, Except you enthrall me, never shall be free, Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me. John Donne, Holy Sonnet XIV
Trans. mine. In this interpretation of v. 7, I follow Heschel, op. cit., I:113. Pitttan can mean simply you deceived me, but the verb also frequently has the connotation of seduce, and regularly means this in modern Hebrew. For this use of the word, see Ex. 22:16 [Hebr. 22:15]; Job 31:9; Hos. 2:14 [Hebr. 2:16]. For me, the necessity of this reading comes rst of all from the sequence of actions, seduction followed by forcible violation. Simply being deceived does not naturally lead to being overpowered. But being seduced does, particularly in Israelite thinking. e verse from Hosea is especially instructive: Ill beguile her (mephatteyha), lead her into the countryside, and win her heart (and presumably more than her heart). In Israelite law, a betrothed girl who is violated by someone other than her anc inside city limits was presumed to be guilty of adultery and was stoned, on the assumption that she could have called for (and presumably gotten) help. If, however, she claims to have been raped in the countryside, the burden of guilt falls on her attacker alone, because she would have been unable to get help (Deut. 22:23-27). Hoseas Yahweh, in typically provocative language, proposes to take Israel into the countryside to woo her, where the outcome of the wooing is beyond doubt. e ner points of philology aside, this is the only reading that makes sense. Jeremiahs point here is not that he has come to doubt the truth of Yahwehs message. He is in no ordinary sense deceived. Jeremiahs complaint is rather that he has become an object of ridicule and hostility, as a oozy is ridiculed and subject to popular outrage. Yahwehs message is as true as ever, but the people dont believe it and regard the messenger as an aront to public decorum. Jeremiah is exposed as Gods oozy until such time (v. 11) as Yahweh emerges as Prince Charming to save the day and rout Jeremiahs persecutors, who, unlike Yahweh (tkhal, v. 7), will not have their way (lo yukhlu).

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With this long prologue, Id like now to oer a few elementary ideas about how the Church could respond appropriately to climate change in ways that are consistent with the its theology and history, and which could be the rst baby steps toward building a Zion society in the 21st century. 1. Establish a ve-year plan to make the Church energy-independent through the use of solar panels and geothermal heating and air-conditioning systems. is plan would also include steps to make all new church buildings maximally energy-ecient, thus reducing and even eliminating the requirements for heating and air-conditioning. Among the changes to future church buildings would be extensive use of passive solar design principles such as orienting buildings to minimize exposure to summer sun and to maximize winter sun, designing interior spaces to create convection currents (thus minimizing the need for fans), use of solar lighting, landscaping that focuses on providing shade in summer and sun exposure in winter, etc. Behavioral changes would include greater use of buildings during the day to take advantage of sunlight and minimize electricity requirements for lighting. plan would also outline stringent energy (and water) conservation measures to begin immediately. Energy independence is not only a matter of protecting society from catastrophic climate change, but a principle of self-suciency that is appropriate at any time. And, it is a principle of prudence, when our electrical grid is vulnerable to volatile energy prices, natural disasters, and terrorism. 2. Make this energy-independence plan public. Never has there been a greater need for visible leadership. e Church as a conservative organization can do this better than any other. e Israelis have a saying that, Only Menachem Begin could go to Cairo. It is certainly an irony that it was not the progressive Labor Party that nally brought an end to Israels decades-long war with Egypt but the party led by a man whom many considered little better than a Jewish terrorist. With progress on climate change being blocked by almost monolithic opposition from Republicans at both the local e

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and the national level, I believe that only a powerful conservative organization can break the deadlock. Quite apart from the need to alter the political landscape, however, public action by the Church is vital for the sake of its membership. If this and the other changes proposed here are to help kindle a recommitment among members to build a Zion society, then the Churchs acts of leadership must be bold and they must be public. very long time. 3. Create an oce of sustainability. e goal of this oce should be to insure that the Church operates e men in the pulpit need to speak with the energy and the at kind of energy has been missing from our pulpits for a pointedness that Brigham Young did.

on a 100% carbon-neutral and true-cost basis by 2020, thus more than meeting Lester Browns 80% by 2020 goal. As Ive already explained, this is not the way the Church or any other institution does business today. As a non-prot, the Church of course has no reason to externalize costs. But to the extent that it buys products and services from for-prot companies, the Church necessarily becomes a party to the dishonesty that is inherent in todays business world. In a real sense, our way of externalizing costs is a form of living beyond our means. It is the most insidious form of bubble economics, to which our society appears to be increasingly liable. True-cost accounting insures that the Church is as honest in its dealings with the living planet as it encourages its members to be in their day to day lives. 4. Make the existence and purpose of this oce public. Only when members see that the Church itself is committed to sustainable and honest living, will they feel compelled to make the same commitment. In fact, as part of its publicity around this oce, the Church should encourage its members to institute similar programs in their own businesses. 5. Adopt a Go-Organic program for all Church agricultural and ranching operations worldwide, and make this public. Agriculture contributes substantially to greenhouse gas emissions (about 18% of the

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e imperative for going organic derives not only from the need to prevent catastrophic is will force a revolution in farming whether we like it

climate change (and with it the destruction of agriculture) but also from the fact that we will in any event run out of oil in the coming century. or not, as Cuba experienced in 1990 with the sudden loss of Soviet oil. How Cuba reinvented agriculture is a model and an inspiration.76 In Havana today, half of the food consumed in the city is raised within city limits, and 80% of it is organic. is is a degree of true self-suciency that American cities, the Mormon capital included, can only dream of. And yet, it was the norm in Utah in the memory of people living today. As in so many respects, our sustainable future will resemble our sustainable past more than it does the present.77 6. Reinstitute aggressive stake, ward, and home gardening programs. It isnt only large-scale farming that is unsustainable. Its our very diet.78

e wisdom of the Word of Wisdom, with its counsel to eat meat

e percentage attributed to agriculture varies depending on what is included as agriculture and what is categorized under some other heading, such as transportation or land use. At the low end of the scale, is the EPAs 6%, which uses a very restrictive lter for what goes in the agriculture bucket (http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/downloads09/ GHG2007entire_report-508.pdf ). e Pew Center, using similar methodology, pegs the number slightly higher at 8%: http://www.pewclimate.org/global-warming-basics/facts_and_gures/us_emissions/usghgemsector.cfm (U.S.) e 18% number is that of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO): http://www.fao.org/newsroom/en/news/ 2006/1000448/index.html. e dierence between the high and low numbers lies in the fact that the FAO includes emissions from all sources connected with agriculture, including transportation and land use and land change practices (esp. deforestation), which the EPA treats under separate headings. While not applicable in all respects to the U.S., where deforestation, for example, is not an issue, the FAOs method is generally the more honest and accurate. Transporting cattle, for example, is an inherent cost of todays livestock industry. It would appear, for example, on the balance sheet of any farm, and it should therefore be treated as an agricultural contribution separate from that of the larger transportation sector, and so on down the line. Not to do so, again, externalizes the true environmental cost of, say, eating a hamburger or a steak, which turns out to be quite high. eres a useful discussion of the issue at the University of Missouris Agricultural Extension, http://extension.missouri.edu/publications/DisplayPub.aspx?P=G310. See the documentary, e Power of Community (http://www.powerofcommunity.org/cm/index.php). I cannot recommend this extraordinary, life-changing lm too highly.

For a fascinating look at the sustainable past that lives on in Americas Amish and Mennonite communities, see Eric Brende, Better O: Flipping the Switch on Technology. New York: HarperCollins, 2004. Of particular interest is Brendes observation that in the 15 years that his particular community had been in existence, not one farm had failed, while oildependent, technology-heavy American farms were going out of business left and right (162). Indeed, the farmers of this community were debt-free. Farm equipment powered by oil represents a modern farmers largest capital investment, and correspondingly one of his greatest liabilities. Also of interest here is the life work of Joel Salatin, a pioneer in sustainable, small-scale farming (http://www.polyfacefarms.com/default.aspx).

Among the many books on this subject, I recommend the following: Michael Pollan, In Defense of Food. New York: Penguin, 2008; Eric Schlosser, Fast Food Nation: e Dark Side of the All-American Meal. New York: Houghton Miin, 2001; Richard Robbins, Diet for a New America. Tiburon, CA: H. J. Kramer, 1998. Originally published 1987; Global Problems and the Culture of Capitalism. 4th Edition. Boston: Allyn & Bacon, 2007.

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sparingly, becomes more evident every day. And yet, this, arguably the most important element of the Word of Wisdom as regards both individual health and the environment, is not the aspect of the Word of Wisdom that we focus on today. If we want to be healthy and to live sustainably, the core of our diet should be what we raise ourselves, and this, for us, as for most people throughout history, is grains, fruits, and vegetables, not meat. And Americans can do this as well as Cubans. During World War II, for example, urban Americans planted Victory Gardens, where, it is estimated, we grew 40% of the food consumed nationally.79 lawns and create productive permaculture. 7. Establish a low-cost food co-op program that parallels Deseret Industries. is co-op program would e Church should encourage members to rip out their

provide mostly whole foods from the Churchs own farms where feasible (as in part of Utah, California, and the Northwest) and from local organic farms where the distance to Church supplies is prohibitive. e co-op program would also be a venue in which members could exchange their own produce from home and community gardens. Healthy, basic foods should be accessible to everyone in the community without having to spend a fortune. Sadly, today, junk food from chains such as McDonalds is often cheaper than truly nourishing, unprocessed foods. Healthy food is an even more fundamental necessity than clothing and the other goods that are provided by Deseret Industries. What a wonderful thing it would be, therefore, for the Church to become known as the place where people can get back to this fundamental human value. Co-op outlets could be anything from a Deseret Industries store to a local stake center. is is also a way for the Church to positively engage local communities and local skill sets everywhere. As Cubans discovered, not least of the benets of their urban gardening revolution was the way that it helped to foster the sense of neighborhood community. e Church thus gets the additional benet of strengthening and being is is practical bridge building, as opposed to trying to seen to be strengthening community.

convince people through media alone that the Church is not divisive.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victory_garden, visited 1/19/10. In fact, Victory Gardens by other names (Potato Patches, Liberty Gardens, Depression Relief Gardens) have been a feature of the American urban landscape for over a hundred years. e story is beautifully told at Sidewalksprouts, http://sidewalksprouts.wordpress.com/history/vg/.

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8. Reinvest in Utah agriculture. Its vital that the Church, as the wealthiest and most powerful organization in Utah and the one with the most at stake, help to preserve whats left of Utahs arable land as a hedge against hard times and as a surety of self-suciency. e Churchs advocacy of provident living, if it is to be meaningful, must go beyond mere penny pinching in the home. A community that depends entirely or largely on distant farms and oil-based food distribution systems, as ours in Utah does, is scarcely provident or self-reliant. And even if we didnt have environmental, health, and economic reasons to return to locally grown food, there is a spiritual imperative. People need to be involved in raising their own food as a principle of stewardship. We need to reconnect with the earth as the ground of being. Writing in 1947, apostle John Widtsoe, Mormonisms great exponent of desert agriculture, expressed the opinion that, e people who have descended from the pioneers still cherish the thought that the e earnest majority of the members of the Church are farmers and hope that it may ever be so... contributions to the world of the people who settled the Western American deserts.80 As an example, lets consider Utah fruit. At the peak of production in the 1920s, Utah boasted nearly 2,000,000 fruit trees, most of them located in the stretch of land from Santaquin to Brigham City. Of all places in the Intermountain West, it turns out, our ancestors picked the only ones where largescale, sustainable fruit growing could be practiced.81 In the words of Sam Edgecomb, former head of Utah State Universitys horticulture department, No place in Canada or the U.S. oered the opportunities for fruit production that were oered here in Utah.82 is unique resource is being paved over for shopping malls that will not feed us when times get hard. And even as we plow under the orchards, we now import apples from China and Japan. What a disgrace! What remains of this precious land along the Wasatch Front (from Brigham City to Santaquin) should be preserved now.
80 81

belief in farming as the cementing element in all social and economic progress is one of the major

How the Desert Was Tamed. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1947, 18, 20.

e story, and the reasons for Utahs uniquely fertile fruit industry, are found in Carrol Firmage, A Land of Milk and Honey: Family, Food, and Faith in Utah (Masters project, University of Utah, 2009). Carrol and I are presently working on a joint history of Utah agriculture, of which her thesis is a part. Quoted in Clarence Ashton, Recent Developments in Utah Countys Fruit Industry and Its Future Possibilities in Eleanor Bishop, ed., Utah Fruit Tree Survey 1965. Salt Lake City: Utah State Dept. of Agriculture, 1965, 28.

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And valleys once too cold for agriculture that will become prime agricultural land as climate warms also need to be preserved. ese areas include Cache Valley, the Heber-Kamas-Coalville area, and the corridors along I-15 and Utah Highways 24, 28 and 89, areas that even the federal government now recognizes as the Mormon legacy.83 9. Lobby for no-growth policies in communities throughout Utah. Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell, as dear old Ed Abbey used to say. It makes no sense to implement energy conservation and renewable energy eorts in part of a community only to have saved energy swallowed up by continued growth. And the problem of growth extends far beyond energy, though that is what drives climate change. Here in Utah, we are going to face an enormous challenge in meeting our water needs and our need for locally grown food, which may well end up (and which should end up) being the majority of the food we have to eat. Utah must have a population level that can be sustained using local water and food resources, both of which will be under environmental stress. If Utah is to be self-sustaining, and in my mind that is what true sustainability in Utah means, it must preserve remaining arable land for food production. Indeed, some developed land may need to be returned to agriculture. No-growth is a step in this direction. And it will have other immediate benets. e Wasatch Front already has some of the unhealthiest air in the U.S. e prospect of adding another 500,000 people to the Salt Lake valley, as anticipated by some, staggers the imagination. An example of the desperate, if politically unlikely, need for no-growth policies is Washington County, which until the recent recession was often rst or second on the list of fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the United States. At present, unlike other fast-growing desert areas such as Phoenix and Las Vegas, Washington County is able to meet its water needs without the use of Colorado River water. Given the likelihood (discussed above) that the Colorado will not be able to support the present much less the future population of the Southwest, this is a state of aairs that must continue. But this is not what Washington County leaders want. ey foresee as much as a three-fold increase in the areas population by mid-century. To power that growth after they have

As indicated in the recent historic highway designation of the same name.

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exhausted local water resources, they propose to build a pipeline to carry Colorado water to St. George. If they are successful, southern Utah is set for compounded disaster, because it is destroying whatever native resiliency, whatever natural reserve, it would otherwise have to respond to climate change. Whats more, if the proposed Lake Powell Pipeline is built, and if, as seems almost certain, the promised water proves to be temporary, Washington County will be saddled with a $1 billion debt that the local water utility will have to bear. In a word, the moment Washington County gets its rst drop of Colorado River water, it signs its own death warrant. 10. Establish a Perpetual Energy Fund to enable members to make their own homes energy-independent. Apart from ignorance and inertia, the biggest impediment to the popular adoption of solar energy and geothermal heat pumps is their high up-front cost, which for most existing home owners is still prohibitive, though it is declining. My term Perpetual Energy Fund the pun is deliberate derives from the Mormon institutions of the Perpetual Immigration Fund and the Perpetual Education Fund that respectively helped Mormon immigrants get to Utah and to get an education. What I have in mind is a Church-sponsored nancial system that fronts money for clean energy investments and that are paid back from what would otherwise go to the utility. investment than building a new chapel. is is a real investment in the ock. is kind of thing seems to me to be an incomparably better way to spend Church money and Church-raised

In parallel with the Perpetual Energy Fund for existing homes, the Church should encourage the passage of city and state ordinances requiring all new homes in Utah to have both solar and geothermal systems, the cost of which, when amortized over the lifetime of the home, make them not only aordable but a sound economic investment. Builders presently have no incentive to install such systems, because, as I noted above, there is no market-based mechanism for recognizing the true cost of the alternative. As long as that remains true, the only way to get us moving is through regulation. And here in Utah, that will require action by the Church, because our political leaders are among the least environmentally savvy and progressive in the world. 11. Encourage members to dramatically reduce their environmental impact. is needs to be done not as

one instruction among many, but as part of a call for all hands on deck. It needs to be preached with
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the intensity that drove Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball in their sermons of the retrenchment movement in the late 1850s. e challenge we face today is in fact far more serious than any faced by the early saints after their initial settlement here. But we are not presenting the situation as a crisis. Indeed, Church leadership does not yet perceive that there is a crisis. In fact, what we need is a new Word of Wisdom that denes us today and for the future as essentially as its predecessor has for the last century and a half. What purpose is there in encouraging saints to keep the present Word of Wisdom if they ignore the even bigger threat to their health that looms in climate change? e message that members need to hear from the pulpit is that climate change is real, that it is the problem of our time, that changing our way of life is not only a practical but also a moral necessity, and that such change is part and parcel of building Zion here and now. In the 2007 letter that I wrote to counselor omas S. Monson, I included a sample First Presidency

message that might launch a shift in the way the Church deals with the issues presented here. When Joseph Smith revealed the Word of Wisdom in 1833, he could scarcely have imagined how this list of basic dos and donts for healthy living, given, as the Doctrine & Covenants puts it, not by commandment but as words of counsel adapted to the capacity ofthe weakest of all saints, would subsequently dene Latter-day Saints as a people. A century since the early Churchs most distinctive practices such as the United Order and polygamy disappeared, what denes LDS people today in the eyes of the world is the fact that we abstain from coee, alcohol, and tobacco. In addition to dening us as a people, as any peculiar practices might, observance of the Word of Wisdom also in fact makes us healthy. No one imagines the Word of Wisdom to be the last word on healthy living. But it commits us as Saints to being concerned about health. had unexpected, far-reaching, and dening consequences for us as a people. e story of the Word of Wisdom is a lesson for life. e simple things we do each day are often the at commitment has

most important things of all. Taking care of our bodies, raising happy families, performing daily acts of kindness these are real Christian living. What these things have in common, and what denes them as essentially Christian, is the attitude of love. As the apostle James said, pure religion is not a
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matter of belief but of love in action (James 1:27).

e prophet Isaiah, hundreds of years earlier, had

said much the same thing, To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrices we might say church meetings, fast oerings, or temple endowments who hath required this at your hand? Learn to do well, seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow (Isa. 1:11,12,17).84 Jesuss nal charge to the Twelve was simply feed my sheep. e message of these and countless, similar passages from biblical and modern prophets is that God is concerned less with what we believe than with how we live. Are we in deed as well as in word good stewards of the life He has given us? In that spirit, we encourage the Saints to take thought for their responsibility to the earth and to the generations of beings of all kinds who have yet to inhabit the earth. We live in a time when our own success as a species has put unprecedented stress on the earth, upon which we all depend for our very life. From the beginning, God has taught us that the earth is not ours but His, and that our use of the earth is conditioned upon exercising the restraint and love that God Himself shows to us and to all of His other living creations. Gods gift of the world to us our dominion is our chance to prove that we can govern ourselves with forbearance and wisdom and treat the earth with love. Our failure to do so carries its own punishment, as well as the anger of God. We oer the following suggestions as a word of wisdom for our time, as counsel for those who call themselves saints. We encourage you to take these suggestions not as the limit of our responsibility towards the earth but as the beginning of a life rededicated to wise and sustainable use of the miraculous home that God has given us. e earth is here not for our prot but as a source of happiness and well-being for us and for other living things, who, like us, are under commandment from God to ll the measure of their creation. Let us become a people as noted for their prudent and loving care of the earth as for their good health, for these two qualities of saintly living cannot ultimately be separated.

e overwhelming weight of the prophetic message is precisely on these simple manifestations of caring that have absolutely nothing to do with belief, dogma, or ideology. Cf., among many examples, Amos 2:6-7; 5:11-12; 8:11; Isa. 42:1-4; 56:1; Jer. 22:15-16.

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is message was the introduction to what I proposed could be a Church-published pamphlet listing what I called ten steps for good stewards, ten simple, low- and no-cost actions that ordinary members could take to begin reducing their carbon footprint. I wont try readers patience by listing or discussing them here, but the document is available online for anyone who is interested.85


[URL to be supplied.]

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No bitterness: our ancestors did it. ey were only ignorant and hopeful, they wanted freedom but wealth too. eir children will learn to hope for a Caesar. Or rather for we are not aquiline Romans but soft mixed colonists Some kindly Sicilian tyrant wholl keep Poverty and Carthage o until the Romans arrive. We are easy to manage, a gregarious people, Full of sentiment, clever at mechanics, and we love our luxuries. Robinson Jeers86 Before wrapping up, let me anticipate and try to answer some objections to the agenda that Ive proposed here. e biggest likely objection, that this is a political issue and therefore outside the proper bounds of Church action, has already been addressed at length. Let me take some of the lesser objections one by one. 1. Were in the last days. All of this, however, painful, is part of Gods plan. It has been foreseen by prophets and cant be stopped. ere are, of course, those such as myself who doubt that this has been foreseen, who in fact would say that it is not foreseeable. But approaching the question from the vantage point of LDS belief, I reply that weve been living in the last days since the Church was founded in 1830, and that living in the last days has never been a legitimate reason for not doing the best we can. On the contrary, living now, as one sees in the verse from the Book of Moses quoted above, is a mandate to build a radically better society. And until that society exists, the end of this phase of earths existence cannot come. We may be living at the end of time, but the nal curtain wont fall until we nish the work that weve been assigned, which is to build Zion. On a more practical level, consider the exemplary life of our pioneer ancestors, who were chased from three cities before they came to Salt Lake, and who, even after arriving here, were often called


Ave Caesar, in Ellmann, ed., op. cit., 547.

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to leave yet again and settle some remote corner of the Mormon hinterland. Wherever they went, for however short a time, they built to stay. ey built sustainable, beautiful communities. e women of Nauvoo, for instance, ground up their china to make the temple walls sparkle, and they did this knowing that they would soon have to leave the temple forever. One of the most inspiring little stories along this line is that of Lorenzo Young, Brighams brother. In the spring of 1848, a year after his arrival in the Salt Lake valley, Lorenzo planted seed for 40,000 apple trees. Shortly after the trees sprouted, the Mormons experienced the rst of several infestations of crickets, which ate all but 17 of Lorenzos 40,000 apple tree sprouts. Undaunted, in 1849 Lorenzo decided to try a dierent approach. He returned to St. Louis and purchased 200 sapling trees, which he planted in a special wagon lled with dirt. He then set o for Salt Lake. By the time he arrived, all but three of his saplings were dead. Such was the heartbreaking, backbreaking beginning of Utahs thriving fruit industry. Lorenzo had every reason to give up, and could well have said, as I have heard many Latter-day Saints say to me, that it doesnt really matter what we do now because we live at the end of things. God will take care of the present mess. is attitude is a denial of everything our pioneer ancestors stood for. In short, my answer to this objection is to hold up the life of Brigham Young and his fellow saints, for whom living at the end of things simply meant that they had to get busy. 2. e Church is now a global institution and cannot think narrowly in terms of action focused on Utah. e Church does indeed have a global responsibility, and what is proposed here is for the Church to act globally. But, the Church is uniquely positioned to make a dierence in Utah, where over 60% of the residents are LDS. Nowhere else does the Church have such popular and political leverage. Church should do most where it can have the most impact, and that is here in Utah. More importantly, by creating a model community in Utah, the Church achieves the most important possible goal: to show the world how a community can become sustainable. A small number of individuals can live sustainably in isolation. But that is not an answer for the world. to see a way for everybody to live. e world needs e

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3. We cant aord it.

e Church is in the process of spending at least $1 billion on Salt Lake Citys

Downtown Rising project, which benets mostly those living in Salt Lake. Its a worthy project for reinvigorating Salt Lakes economy. But, its hardly a mission to save the world. If the Church is willing to spend this much money on a business venture that benets few, how can it possibly reject a proposal that benets an entire nation, and that could well, as a catalytic example, save the world? is objection is a sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal. e bottom line in any event is that we cant aord not to. e consequence of failure will be the

devastation of Utah and of the world and the loss of everything we think weve saved by refusing to do anything now. At some point, as the eects of climate change and peak oil start to squeeze the world, the Church, like all institutions, may nd that it no longer has the means to act. must act now while it has the means. It must act now while it can still make a dierence. 4. Were already doing many of the things you talk about. Not by long shot. e Church, for example, e Church

recently formed what it calls the Global Energy Management Committee, which is apparently charged with creating an energy plan that includes renewables. And the Church has begun work on three pilot solar chapels here in Utah. is is a good beginning. But the Church is moving far too slowly and deliberately, and it is moving in secret. I doubt that any of the readers of this journal, for example, will have heard of either of these energy initiatives of the Church. As Ive said, it is imperative that the Church act publicly if it intends to bring the LDS populace along with it on the journey to community resilience. From my perspective, until the Church has a plan to become carbon-neutral across the whole spectrum of its operations by 2020, it is not doing enough. Until the Church is 100% carbon-neutral, it is not doing enough. And until all active Church members can say that they too are carbon-neutral, the Church is not doing enough. If from this moment, the Church erects a single new building that isnt carbon-neutral, the Church is not doing enough. And, if the Church isnt shouting this message from the rooftops, it is not doing enough. e Church has extensive and admirable welfare and preparedness programs. But these should not be confused with the kind of community resilience that Im talking about. e Churchs existing programs will not begin to meet the long-term needs of members should systems begin collapsing as
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scientists project.

e only way to respond appropriately to climate change is to prevent it. To the

extent that members feel prepared for climate change as theyre prepared for a two-week power outage, their preparedness is an impediment to the kind of change that must now occur. In this respect, the Churchs existing programs may give a false sense of security. If they prevent the sweeping changes Ive talked about, they will have done the Church the greatest possible harm. 5. In spite of what you say, we dont believe that climate change is the earth-shattering problem you say it is, so were not going to put our money into preventing it. It may be that I and 97% of the worlds climate scientists are wrong. But what if were not? By the time we accept beyond a shadow of doubt that the scientists were right, we will have passed the tipping points. If that happens, were committed to catastrophic change no matter what we do. self-suciency and community resilience. disappear. e risks are therefore totally asymmetric. If we act now, and climate change isnt what we think it is, weve spent a lot of money to buy energy ats by no means a bad deal. If, however, we dont act and climate change is catastrophic, we will live to see our civilization and all of the money we saved e prudent decision seems utterly obvious.

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My anguish, my anguish! I writhe in pain! Oh, the walls of my heart! My heart beats wildly; I cannot keep silent; For I hear the sound of the trumpet, e alarm of war, Disaster follows hard on disaster, e whole land is laid waste... My grief is beyond healing My heart is sick within me.... For the wound of my beloved people is my heart wounded, I mourn, and dismay has taken hold on me. Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then has the health of my beloved people Not been restored? O that my head were waters, And my eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night For the slain of my beloved people!... Who will have pity on you, O Jerusalem, Or who will bemoan you? Who will turn aside To ask about your welfare? Jeremiah 4:19-20; 8:18-9:1 [Hebr. 8:18-23]87


Trans. Heschel, op. cit., I:120-121.

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is is what the prophets discovered. History is a nightmare...What saved the prophets from despair was their messianic vision and the idea of mans capacity for repentance.88 Zion, by denition, turns its back on business as usual. It is the quintessential expression of the challenge that biblical prophecy and early Christianity were in their time to the always inadequate status quo. Amplifying on Kierkegaards ironic observation that Christianity has completely conquered that is, it is abolished, Harold Bloom observes that you become a Christian only in opposition to the established order.89 e same could be said of becoming a son of Israel according to the prophets, who decried the the coalition of callousness and authority.90 For the LDS Church today to realize its full potential, it too must oer a clear alternative to our present way of life, not only in morals but in every dimension of life. It too must oer a vision not only of individual goodness but also of societal redemption. Plenty of other churches preach morals and goodness as the LDS do. What will make us dierent is the comprehensive, unifying idea of an alternative society. One sixth of Americans today live below the poverty line in the richest and most professedly Christian nation on earth. Millions more, including many Mormons, are without access to aordable health care. As a nation, we are increasingly subject to the diseases of excess and selfindulgence. Our air and our water are polluted due to unprincipled devotion to the prot motive at all costs. And now, towering over all of these evils is the specter of climate change, which is the profoundest expression of the human capacity for destruction (and self-destruction) ever. For the Church not to speak out on these problems and especially on the problem of problems is an abnegation of its prophetic responsibility. For Church leaders to call themselves prophets and not to
88 89 90

Heschel, op. cit., I:185. Jesus and Yahweh. New York: Riverhead Books, 2005, 27. Heschel, op. cit., I:16.

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be the outraged and vocal opponents of the status quo that the biblical prophets were is to make mice of the lions of the Lord. One expects more. e prophet is a person who, living in dismay, has the power to transcend his dismay. Over all the darkness of experience hovers the vision of a dierent day.91 Todays LDS prophets must have and communicate such a vision. A prophetic church, if it takes its biblical mandate seriously, must likewise be something vocally, visibly, and radically dierent. Not least of the characteristics of the alternative lifestyle that the Church must represent is joy. Latter-day Saints are unusual in regarding joy as one of the purposes of being. But, for joy to have meaning, the Church must ght to insure that the ground of being is not destroyed. We need the joy that can come only from clean air and water, healthy food, and a beautiful environment. We need the joy that can only come from living at peace with the earth. Our dependence on fossil fuels threatens all of these. Climate change threatens life itself. e world must change, and the Church, as the institution that claims to represent God, must lead the change. In this crisis or any other, slow, incremental change is not only inappropriate, it is morally indefensible. Incremental change is the political and commercial norm, but it is not the proper response to crisis and it is not the way of repentance. Others may be satised with improvement, the prophets insist upon redemption.92 e Lord asks us not to gradually abandon sin, but to forsake it all at once. And another of his disciples said...Lord, suer me rst to go and bury my father. But Jesus said...Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead (Matt. 18:21). In other words, Come follow me NOW. e imperative of building the kingdom of God brooks no delay. God will not tolerate our continued refusal to build his kingdom. Earth also has a non-negotiable deadline for us. We either meet it, or perish. God and his creation call upon us to forsake our ignorance, selshness, greed, and arrogance, which are the root causes of the present crisis.

91 92

Heschel, op. cit. I:185. Heschel, op. cit., I:181.

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If we will do this, we can change our society in undreamed-of ways for the better.

is is the silver

lining of climate change. Real transformation, whether of individuals or of society, always occurs in times of crisis. We face the greatest crisis of all time. We therefore have an opportunity like no other in history to create the new kingdom and the new man that Jesus and the prophets preached so many lifetimes ago. ,'XQ.,V.,!0Y Q>4 ;'Z[+)\4 4'5S.,9 1C>* )#1 +],@4K#+ ^.,)(!H9 Q.,:'70/(<(+ Q.,?]' ;'&O&O0_ ,Q'`0a Q.,!2) ,+#/#6V>9 'HU@*(9 ,;'7@+.,$ ;'&O.,9@*(?2 ;'5/#)0S ;'5)H?@4 ;'5$#bL(4 %.,Q0) ;XQ.,4 V'5$@!(92 /2c :Y'70d(+ Q>4 VHN.,YF, ;'&O0?5a Q.,Oe5) -#!>4 4'5/]O f(4 4#a [4) Each evening God takes his shining wares from the shop window mystical chariots, covenant tablets, pearls of great price, luminous crosses and bells and returns them to dark boxes inside and closes the shutters. Again, not one prophet came to buy. Yehuda Amichai93

From Poems of the Land of Zion and Jerusalem, Amichai, op. cit., 85. e translation here is mine. Ive taken a small liberty with pnnm yapht that I hope LDS readers will appreciate. It seemed particularly apt under the circumstances.

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Appendix 1: A Prole of Early Mormon Community


Perhaps no other factor was more important in the ultimate survival of the Mormon people than their collective identity, a sense of belonging to a peculiar community that borders on the ethnic. In his study of the Mormon village, based on settlement records of towns such as Escalante, Ephraim, American Fork, and Cardston, Lowry Nelson, son of Mormon homesteaders in Ferron, Utah, and later professor of sociology at the University of Minnesota, identied a number of attributes of the typical early Mormon community, of which the following eight are perhaps the most crucial.95 1) At settlement, land was distributed equally by lot, with no preference being given on the basis of ecclesiastical or social rank. 2) Holdings were small (< 25 acres) so that all members of the community could own land. 3) e Mormon pattern of settlement was unique in the West and especially unusual among farming

communities in dividing land into three dierent types. Each settler received a small holding, typically 1 acres, inside the town for a residence, vegetable garden, and orchard. In addition, each resident received another plot of about ve acres outside the town for raising animals and grain. In Salt Lake City, this outlying agricultural area was known as the Big Field. Finally, everyone in the community had rights in common land still farther outside the town where livestock could graze. is pattern of land use encouraged the development of tightly knit communities in which people associated with one another on a daily basis in town. is form of town life stands in stark contrast

For this material, I am indebted to my wifes masters thesis, A Land of Milk and Honey: Family, Food, and Faith in Utah, cited above.
94 95

e Mormon Village. Salt Lake City: University of Utah, 1952.

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to that of much of the frontier West where homes were located miles from one another and where town life took a backseat to farm life. e notion of fundamental equality among the residents of a town was taken at times to strange lengths. For example, to insure equal access to common land, residents of some towns mandated that no one could use the commons before a certain date. On that date, the town would hold a dance to which everyone was invited. Only when the dance was done, were people allowed to go out and stake their temporary claim to a portion of the commons. In this way, everyone literally started from the same point with equal odds of access to any part of the commons. After a certain point in the fall, the commons was thrown open so that anyone could graze their animals anywhere. 4) All town residents shared responsibility for building forts, roads, irrigation ditches, and other public works and public buildings. 5) In larger towns, the Church established cooperative wholesale stores to provide a market for exchange. ese were not commercial stores in the usual sense. eir intent, as illustrated by the reaction of Charles Smith to the introduction of the coop program, was in fact to prepare the saints for the fullness of the communitarian Gospel, the United Order of Enoch, that was shortly to come. I went to Ward meeting Bro A M Musser and G Q Cannon occupied the time. ey spoke upon this

matter of our trading with those who are not of us. He shewed the advantages from our cooperating putting our means together... is movement was intended to make us more united to bring us closer together, according to the pattern of the Gospel. Bro Cannon Said it was very evident that men were Seecking to get rich and build themselves up, and to form that distinction of class in society, which thing was an abomination in the sight of God. He referred to the Nephites shewing that when they began to get rich they Drew o in Classes and despised the poor. is matter to which our attention was now being called would bring about good results, and would prepare the minds of the people, to

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receive further those principles that pertained to the order of Enoch...At the close of the meeting subscriptions were handed in to carry forward the movement of a cooperative Wholesale Store.96 6) Agriculture, which formed the basis for all Mormon communities, though it became in time a business, was rst and foremost a matter of subsistence and self-suciency. is modality continued well into the 20th century. Writing in 1947 for the states centennial history, Arvil Stark, former secretary of the Utah State Horticultural Society, observed, In general, the commercial orchards are small, averaging less than 5 acres in size and the fruit crop is usually associated with other kinds of agriculture to make a diversied agriculture. In other words, farming in Utah is usually a way of life rather than the highly specialized business characteristic of some other areas.97 7) In most cases, towns were not created helter-skelter by individuals seeking their own place to settle down. Instead, the Church would call people, that is, request them, to settle an area in order to promote Mormon control of essential territory. Members of each mission were chosen for their particular skills so as to provide an eective basis for self-sustaining communities all around the Mormon pale. move to another. 8) e culmination of the Mormon communitarian experiment was the heroic, if short-lived, us, personal empire building was subordinated to that of the kingdom of God. It was not unheard-of for people to be called to settle one area only to be asked in subsequent years to

attempt at true religious communism known as the United Order of Enoch, or United Order for short. In this system, individuals voluntarily gave all of their property to the Church and received back what they needed to live on. All surplus was distributed within the community. is form of communism was never universally practiced, nor was it mandatory even in places where it was attempted. Nonetheless, the attempt itself indicates the tendency within the early LDS Church toward community.98
Diary of Charles Smith, 1819-1905, Typescript BYU, quoted in Leonard Arrington, Great Basin Kingdom. Lincoln, NB: University of Nebraska, 298. Punctuation is original.
96 97 98

History of Growing Fruit in Utah. Utah: A Centennial History. New York: Lewis Historical Publishing, 1949, 1:114.

See the chapter on Orderville in Wallace Stegners Mormon Country. Lincoln, NB: University of Nebraska, 1942, the most beautiful evocation of Mormon life prior to WWII ever written. Firmage, Light in Darkness, 86 of 90

No detail was too mundane for consideration in Brigham Youngs United Order, because the Order, as the truest manifestation of the Gospel, encompassed all aspects of life, even the trivial, and ennobled them by putting them in the context of the bigger objective toward which the saints were striving. Instead of having every woman getting up in the morning and fussing around a cookstove...for two or three or half a dozen persons, [Young] said, he would have a village dining hall a hundred feet long with a cooking room and bakery attached. is would mean that most of the women could spend their time protably making bonnets, hats, and clothing, or working in factories. Confusion in the dining hall could be avoided by installing a system by which each person could telegraph his order to the kitchen, and this order would be conveyed to him by a little railway under the table. And when they have all eaten, the dishes are piled together, slipped under the table, and run back to the ones who wash them...In order to remove the laborious burden of big family washings, he suggested they have cooperative laundries. ese would not only relieve the women from drudgery, but would also save the husbands from steamy walls, soap suds, and ill-temper. e community would eat together, pray together, and work together... Half the labor necessary to make the people moderately comfortable under their present arrangements, he said, would make them independently rich under this system. A society like this, he concluded, would never have to buy anything; they would always make and raise all they would eat, drink and wear...99 Part beer hall, part chapel, Brighams dining room and its toy railroad illustrate the degree to which he was willing to rethink every aspect of conventional life, especially when it came to the family. and the attempts that were made to bring the vision into life anticipate the longer-lived, but also only partly successful experiment of the Israeli kibbutz (literally, collective). is vision of a Mormon communal utopia, though conceived with an entirely dierent purpose in mind,


Arrington, Great Basin Kingdom, 326, paraphrasing and quoting Brigham Youngs sermon of Oct. 9, 1872.

Firmage, Light in Darkness, 87 of 90

To these attributes of the Mormon village, I would add one more. Not unlike the kibbutzniks, but modeling themselves on a much older Palestinian paradigm, the Mormons were also bound to their land in a way that was in theory at least and often in reality quite dierent from that of other Americans. To begin with, Mormons viewed themselves as players in a sacred drama, in which the land and their relationship to it are dened by Scriptural precedent. ey thought of themselves quite literally as the children of Israel, descendants of the Twelve Tribes being gathered in at the end of time. To this day, Mormons receive patriarchal blessings in which they are told the tribe of Israel from which they descend. us, their persecution in Illinois was necessary to separate these children eir journey westward was the analogue of of Israel from the world (the esh pots of Egypt, etc.).

Israels exodus, the Great Basin was their promised land, and Brigham Young their Moses. And here in the Great Basin, they would not only settle and at last enjoy freedom from persecution but would also build the Kingdom of God. them by God. is was no mundane search for a home but a mission imposed on e city of the saints or rather the cities of the saints were therefore no ordinary

settlements but rather outposts of Zion, harbors, like Yehuda Amichais Jerusalem, on the shore of eternity. Like the Israelites, the early Mormons believed that their occupation of this land was by divine concession, and therefore subject at all times to Gods pleasure. Failure to live up to their part of the covenant with God would jeopardize their entitlement to the land. But the sense that God had called them to settle here also had a more immediate justication, for, as Ive noted, many were in fact called by their church leaders to settle specic areas. And those who were not called to settle an area may have had reason nonetheless to regard their presence there as a sort of divine test. As a result, many original settlers and their descendants remained even when conditions deteriorated to the point of disaster. Describing the extraordinarily challenging years of the Dust Bowl in Utahs marginal areas, Brian Cannon writes: ...decades following his removal from the town of Widtsoe, one farmer recalled a promise made by Mormon apostle Melvin J. Ballard to the communitys residents. e valley would be a Garden of Eden if its inhabitants kept Gods commandments and stayed out of debt, Ballard had prophesied. If they did not do so, it would be taken from them. Ballards words had infused the land with sacred
Firmage, Light in Darkness, 88 of 90

meaning, rendering the valley a symbolic link between the areas residents and God. Remembering that promise, the people clung to their land as long as they physically could. To move away was to admit spiritual as well as temporal failure. Although all but two families eventually moved away, some former residents of the area still remember that promise, speak of their valley reverently, make annual pilgrimages to it, and speculate that it may one day blossom.100 In these ways and in the equally radical attempt to redene marriage, early Mormonism was the antithesis of the American dream. No sharper contrast can be imagined than that which existed between the Mormonism of the United Order period and its contemporaneous American counterpart, the Gilded Age. At the very point in time when capitalism and not-so-enlightened selfinterest were transforming America into an industrial and commercial paradise (if that isnt a contradiction in terms), Brigham Young was preaching sermons such as the following: Let the calicoes be on the shelves and rot, I would rather build buildings every day and burn them down at night, than have traders here communing with our enemies outside and keeping up a hell all the time and raising devils to keep it going We can have enough [hell] of our own, without their help We sincerely hope that the time is not far distant when the people will supply their own wants and manufacture their own supplies; then and not until then will we become independent of our enemies.101 Brighams chief enemy was capitalism, and his kingdom would be its ultimate victim. In no other place in the West did Europeans create such a legacy of sustainable community. As a result, it is quite nearly true that there are no Mormon ghost towns. e Mormons came to stay. ey are the Wests ultimate stickers, as Stegner felicitously called them. In the years before WWII, even with the encroachments of capitalist America, Utah had achieved a high degree of the selfsuciency that Brigham Young so earnestly sought.

e state produced, for example, enough food of

Struggle against Great Odds: Challenges in Utahs Marginal Agricultural Areas, 1925-1939. Utah Historical Quarterly 54 (1986), 320. Brigham Young to H. S. Eldredge, November 20, 1858. Journal History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, March 28, 1858, as cited in Arrington, Great Basin Kingdom, 196.

Firmage, Light in Darkness, 89 of 90

all types to meet its needs and more.102 And, despite being the second-driest state in the nation, it had developed water resources more than sucient for its needs, without the help of the Bureau of Reclamation. Indeed, the Bureaus eorts by comparison are a colossal failure. for the small-scale farmer. e Mormons actually accomplished what the Bureau never did, despite its mandate to do so: a reclamation of desert land


H. H. Bancroft, History of Utah. Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1964, 720.

Firmage, Light in Darkness, 90 of 90

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